Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can result in fractures, crippling pain and hunched posture. It affects 1 in 4 women over
age 50 and 1 in 8 men over age 50. Osteoporosis turns the sturdy latticework of bone into a fragile lace that breaks easily during
simple activity. Osteoporosis is a preventable disease. Factors that increase risk for osteoporosis are: family history, smoking,
poor diet and lack of exercise. As my own Mother aged, I watched her suffer the effects of osteoporosis on a daily basis. At one
time my Mom was a few inches taller than me. When she passed away, she was about 5'2″. It was so strange to hug her and stand taller. She lived in constant pain that, during the last 15 years of her life, severely impacted her ability to enjoy the activities she once did.
I was also, during the time I worked as a Nurse in the Operating Room, able to see first hand the effects of osteoporosis. I
remember being amazed and startled at how thin and fragile bone can me. It also helped me to understand why my Mom suffered such pain.
At our studio, we have several clients that have been diagnosed with osteopenia, which is the early stage of osteoporosis. I have
had the opportunity to work with a couple of these women for close to 4 years now and even though it is by no means a “scientific”
study, their bone scans each year have shown no further bone loss. Their physicians have been satisfied enough with the results of these scans to hold off starting these ladies on medication.
We do know that the best forms of exercise to help prevent osteoporosis are those that improve muscular strength, balance and
coordination. The skeleton responds better to weight bearing exercises such as walking and lifting weights than aerobic activity
without weight bearing (swimming). Resistance exercise done with weights is of the best benefit to bones. The skeleton must be
stressed with loads that it would not normally experience. The increased load (weight lifting) will put added stress on the
muscles. The muscles respond to this stress by getting stronger. Through their attachments to bones, they will exert force on the bone and the bones will respond by increasing their mass.
Weight training is not only necessary to look and feel good, it is essential in the prevention of disease. After all, I may get a
hankering to walk the Great Wall or climb a mountain when I retire so I need them healthy bones. Keep on lifting….