Best Way to Increase Bone Mineral Density

Osteopenia and osteoporosis.  If these are foreign words to you, turn to the experts in your family – your grandparents. They are most certainly tuned in to these conditions, and who is most likely to get them. Osteopenia is the condition of bones naturally getting thinner as we age. With further bone loss, osteopenia will lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile. Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal women over the age of 65, and in men over the age of 70.

Because your bones are the support system of your entire body, it is extremely important to keep them strong and healthy. Before you reached the age of 30, your bones reached their peak bone mass.  In other words, your body was rapidly creating new bone. But, somewhere after your 30th birthday, your bone building balance shifted, and more bone began being lost than was being gained. Some experts believe that we should look at it as a bank. Some of us have more savings in our bone bank due to genetics, diet and how much bone we built up as teenagers. But others, with a smaller balance in their bone account, can be candidates for osteoporosis.

But, never fear.  There are things that you can do to prevent osteoporosis. We call them the 5 E’s to skeletal success.

  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  3. Ensure adequate calcium intake.
  4. Ensure adequate vitamin D through regular sunlight or a supplement.
  5. Eliminate smoking and alcohol, or at least, reduce alcohol consumption.

For most women, exercise had the most beneficial results on bone building during the years when estrogen was available.  Despite this fact, an exercise related increase in BMD (bone mineral density) is seen at any age, including women who are post-menopausal. Studies show that regular exercise resulted in a reduction of osteoporotic fracture risks of up to 50% in both women and men over age 65.

The types of exercise that are best for BMD are defined 3 ways.

Weight-bearing exercises:

These are exercises where your bones and muscles work against gravity.  For example, running, skipping, walking, jogging, dancing, tennis, volleyball, lifting weights, and netball. Swimming or cycling is NOT considered weight-bearing.

High intensity and/or high impact activities:

Running, jogging, jumping and rope skipping are more stimulating to bone cells than sustained, low impact activities such as walking and hiking.

Resistance exercise:

These include exercising with weights as well as lifting weights. This type of exercise, when combined with high intensity impact exercise provides the most benefits for improving mineral density. Resistance training can be moderate such as a seated machine-based program.  The exercises on the weight machines could include leg extensions, leg presses, hamstring curls, arm curls, triceps presses, chest presses, pec deck, shoulder presses side lateral raises, lat pull-downs, seated rowing, abdominal crunches and calf raises. Resistance training can also be high intensity training which would be using free-weights in a standing program. The 12 high intensity exercises would include: free weight back squats, deadlifts, biceps curls, sit-ups, triceps extensions, chest presses, incline chest presses, shoulder presses, high lat pull-downs, leg curls, grippers, and calf raises.

To be effective on BMD, your exercise needs to be regular and as vigorous as you can endure. Also, you need to vary the exercises. A sample program might be:

  1. Short intense bursts of exercise. For example, 15 minutes of lifting weights or very brisk walking (better than a leisurely one hour walk).
  2. Two short twenty minute exercise sessions separated by 8 hours.

An additional bonus for those over the age of 65 is that by promoting muscle strength, balance and co-ordination, you are also helping to prevent falls. Exercises that help with this are gentle yoga, and Tai Chi.

As mentioned earlier, building and maintaining bone mineral density requires more than just weight-bearing exercises.  Your program needs to be combined with good nutrition.

For more information on how we can help you achieve and maintain your bone density health, call Dustin at DC Strength Ohio, LLC: 440-773-6498.