Bone health is not a shiny, glamorous topic. Everyone knows it’s important, but it seems to always end up on the back burner, and just kind of forgotten. But it’s something that we really need to pay more attention to – especially as women.
In my nine-to-five job as a Physical Therapist Assistant (like a Physician’s Assistant, but for Physical Therapy), I see women every day who are affected by osteoporosis. Bone health WILL be important to you – maybe not today, but in 20, 30, or 40 years, you will have wished you’d paid more attention to the health of your skeleton.
I’m going to preface this blog post by saying that there are many “non-modifiable” risk factors that you just simply have no control over and cannot change – your age (where’s that Fountain of Youth??), your gender, your genetics/family history, your ethnicity, and your frame size.
So what exactly CAN you do now to help preserve your bones so that your Golden Years can truly be golden (instead of painful, disabled, and restricted)?
- An adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Physical Activity (particularly weight training)
- Avoiding alcohol (excessive) and smoking
Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium is not just found in “traditional” calcium rich foods (you know – cheese, yogurt, milk… Basically Dairy). It is also found in more fat loss friendly foods!
- Dark green leafy vegetables are your ticket to calcium!
- Broccoli, collard greens, bok choy, and spinach are great sources!
- Salmon (with bones) is also a good source of calcium.
- As are almonds!
But why is Vitamin D important too? Well without vitamin D, your body cannot absorb and process and properly use calcium!
Here are some food sources of Vitamin D:
- Salmon (wild salmon has more than farmed salmon)
- Pacific Rockfish
- Light Tuna in water has about 25% of your daily recommended dose
- Flounder (approx 25% daily recommendation)
- Ribs can have up to 1/7 the daily dose!
- Sliced ham has almost no Vitamin D – not all pork is created equal
- Eggs (two eggs will give you about 10% of your daily dose)
- Mushrooms (amounts vary based on type of mushroom)
Believe it or not, but your muscles are not the only part of your body that responds and adapts to exercise! Bones are not just static “rods” inside your body – they are living tissue (albeit hard tissue) that adapts to exercise by becoming stronger!
When your bones are “stressed” by the right exercises, they respond by GETTING STRONGER! I could go into a very very long dissertation about the physiology about how this works, but lets just suffice it to say that this is what happens. J
Stress = bone building.
Over stress = injury (true for both muscle AND bone)
More isn’t better – better is better!
So what kind of exercise should you be doing?
- Weight Bearing – walking (helllllllo leisure walking!), hiking, weight training, dancing, tennis (guess what – tennis is practically sprint training with a ball!), stair climbing, and running (SPRINT TRAINING!) are all great options
- Against gravity – again, exercises that take the “gravity” out of the motion (for example, swimming) aren’t premium for bone health.
Well if you’ve adapted the BeyondFit Style of exercise, you’re doing EXACTLY what you should be doing! The monthly workouts on BeyondFit Life and the tri-weekly workouts that BeyondFit Physiques host in New Bern NC combine exercises together that not only are time efficient, but are weight bearing exercises that force you to not only move against gravity (the bare minimum for bone strength) but by using extra weights has your bones growing even stronger.
Avoiding the Obvious
So why are excessive alcohol and smoking bad for your bones? These toxins alter your body’s hormones in a very negative way.
Smoking decreases your estrogen, leading to earlier menopause, leading to longer periods of time where you’re in an acute “bone loss” mode. Studies have shown that there is a DIRECT relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density!!
Excessive alcohol intake leads to so many negative effects.
- It kills the bone-making cells (osteoblasts), which makes it harder for your body to effectively keep up with necessary bone growth.
- Alcohol can also impact estrogen levels – decreasing them and resulting in similar effects that smoking creates.
- It increases the parathyroid hormone – which basically sucks the calcium straight out of the bone a little at a time (eek!)
- It affects the pancreas’ ability to do one of its jobs – absorbing calcium and vitamin D
- It affects the liver’s ability to do one of its jobs – activating vitamin D (remember: vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption)
I’m sorry to have gone so long with this post, but there is SO MUCH that you NEED TO KNOW. Just because you may not be in your Golden Years yet or because you haven’t reached “The Change” yet does NOT mean that this is not important and won’t affect you.
And just because you may have reached these amazing milestones in your life does NOT mean that you get to “give up” on your bone health!
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