I talk to a lot of people about how important it is to do doing weight bearing exercise. Many of my patients have been told by other doctors about the importance of performing weight bearing exercise. The question that usually follows this advice is “what is weight bearing exercise?” The advice will do no good if you do not know what weight bearing exercise is. Weight bearing exercise is any activity that puts stress on your bones. Bones react to stress put upon them by getting more dense and solid. Stress causes the bones to create more bone cells, and therefore become stronger. The more stress put upon the bones, the more dense they will become. The more dense a bone becomes, the stronger it gets. This is important to prevent osteopenia, and osteoporosis.
Osteopenia is a precursor to osteoporosis. Osteopenia is the thinning of bones. The bones themselves do not become thinner, they do not change shape. What happens is they become less dense, and therefore less strong. The more ostepenic a bone is, the weaker its walls are and the more susceptible a bone is to breaking. The more dense a bone is, the stronger it will be and the less susceptible a bone is to breaking. As we age, our bones lose density. Especially if we sit for long periods (which is a non weight bearing activity), our bones will become less and less dense over the years. Women are especially susceptible to osteopenia.
It was widely believed that women, after the age of 35, cannot increase bone density, but can only maintain it. It is now believed that there are some ways to increase bone density as we age. If you want to take some control over your own health, you can do a lot more other than just take the medications your doctor prescribes for increasing bone density. That is where weight bearing exercise comes into play.
The more weight bearing exercise you can do, and the more calcium you can take in, the more dense your bones will become, and you’ll become less susceptible to breaking bones.So what is weight bearing exercise? It is any exercise that puts stress on your bones. Walking, running, elliptical machine are all forms of weight bearing cardio-vascular exercise. Ti Chi, yoga, and weight lifting are all forms of strength building, weight bearing exercise. Riding a bike, swimming, rowing are all non-weight bearing exercises. These exercises do not put stress on your bones, and therefore do not cause your bones to become more dense.
If you have issues with taking calcium supplements, which many of us do, there are lots of foods that have calcium in them. And increased calcium intake will give the bones the proper fuel they need to build and maintain healthy and dense bones. Spinach, green leafy vegetables, any type of diary, will all contain lots of calcium.
Even if you do not have osteopenia or osteoporosis, I feel it is still important to do weight bearing exercise. It will prevent issues of osteoporosis from coming up in the future. It is very important for women to do lots of weight bearing exercise prior to turning 35. This is because prior to turning 35, you will get the best results from weight bearing exercise. Your bones will become more dense. After age 35, you might only be able to maintain that density. So get those bones as dense as possible now, don’t wait for the future to do it. You can prevent osteoporosis now from cropping up 20 years down the road. And if you are osteopenic, or have osteoporosis, do what you can to keep those bones as dense as possible.
Exercise and eating right will help out immensely.