Monday, August 24, 2009

Bone Density

A friend told me about an interesting article from the New York Times, which looks at the differences in bone density between cycling and running. The article highlighted a 2006 study of cyclists with brittle bones.

Aaron Smathers, a cyclist and graduate student in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at the University of Oklahoma, was doing some of the research when he experienced 2 biking accidents in which he suffered a broken collar bone and a severely broken hip. Everyone knows that when your racing and you crash into the pavement your chances of breaking something are better than if you stayed home to watch SNL. But still.

In the study men in their late 20's early 30's were compared to men in the same age group who were active but not competitive athletes.

Bone scans showed that almost all of the cyclists had significantly less bone density in the spine than the control group. Some of the racers, young men in their 20s, had osteopenia in their spines, a medical condition only one step below full-blown osteoporosis.

Another year long study followed a group of male cyclists age 27-44 and found that by the end of the study their bone density was lower than their already below average starting point. Basically the article concludes in saying that other endurance sports that include normal, moderate impact or resistance (running, weight lifting etc) will increase your bone density.

The article states: Bones react to external stresses by strengthening bone. I love this!! Gone are the idea's that running is "bad" for you because of the impact! Hitting the pavement is a perfect way to strengthen your bones. Also, if athletes are losing calcium through intense perspiration and not doing any resistance to counter act ro upping thier calcium intake, that could be a factor in the study as well and add to the lower bone density.

As women, we should pay SPECIAL attention to our resistance work and endurance sports that can strengthen our body's and bones. After the age of 30, a woman's body actually begins to lose bone density! If you're anything like I was, I didn't really get my act together and start eating right, cutting out pop and exercising till my mid twenties...those few years before the big 30 hit were not a lot of time to fill the calcium stores. SO WHAT? What can we do now to help build up the supply that is slipping through the hour glass?

Just Eat it: Eat Broccoli, collard greens, spinach and kale. Dairy products like Yogurt and milk and fruit like oranges and banana's. Omega three fatty acids like in fish are a good source too!
Resistance is NOT futile: Start strength training exercises gals!! Lift weights, carry heavy items, do push ups, go for a fast walk, walk with hand weights or run!
Add it up: Take Vitamin D or Calcium supplement. Vitamins and minerals such as Potassium and Magnesium can aid in strengthening your bones.

Avoid: foods high in Salt, caffeine (I know, I know), alcohol, and fizzy drinks like soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid as these can all interfere with your calcium intake and deplete those precious stores!!

Mary at is not a physician or dietitian, see your doctor with any questions regarding your fitness regiment or diet.
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Although Mary from Fit this girl is a CPT, always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information contained in this website is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.