Aging Gracefully Blog

Archive for the ‘Osteoporosis and Bone Health’ Category

Strength Training by the Decade

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Mother and daughter doing push-ups

Strength training sculpts the contours of your body and strengthens the bones within. By building lean body mass,it boosts your metabolism and your energy levels, making you resistant to the slow-down that occurs with age. A well-designed exercise program that includes weight training will impact your weight, health, fitness and well-being for decades to come.

At 20: A 20-year-old woman who does not lift weights will lose about 6 pounds of muscle and gain 5 pounds of fat by age 50. This means that even if you maintain your scale weight perfectly over time, subtle changes are occurring in your body composition that can affect your health and appearance.

At 30:Strengthening the muscles benefits the bones as well. Now is the time to put "bone in the bank" to fortify against the natural loss of bone that occurs gradually with age.  By age 25 to 30 you’ve achieved your peak bone mass, the highest bone content you’ll have in your lifetime. Although bone continues to renew itself, from this time on you will experience a natural decline in bone density that accelerates at the time of menopause before leveling off again.

At 40: Turning 40 is a wake-up call as many women begin to notice changes in their bodies that sound the alarm. You may be perplexed by creeping weight gain and stubborn belly fat. At around age 40, most women start to lose bone and muscle mass causing a decrease in metabolism of about 5% every decade. The slower metabolic rate contributes to mid-life weight gain when you eat the same amount of food but don't burn all the calories consumed. Strength training revs up the metabolism by maintaining muscle.

At 50: What causes midlife belly? The average weight gain during perimenopause is 10 pounds, and there is a natural tendency to store fat in the abdominal area. The combination of age, hormones, and stress all contribute to belly fat. With age, a woman's level of estrogen declines and the male hormone testosterone becomes more prominent. This causes fat to migrate to the gut from other parts of the body. Stress reaction has a similar effect on fat distribution as it releases another hormone, cortisol, which also encourages fat storage in the belly. Women who lift weights gain less abdominal fat than those who don't.

At 60, 70 and beyond: Sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, causes a generalized slow-down. Between the ages of 50 and 70, women lose almost 30% of overall strength, with dramatic losses after age 70. The fast twitch muscle fibers shrink in size, causing not only a loss of muscle mass, but also a loss of power and energy levels. With advancing age, it becomes more critical to preserve your  "functional independence" as measured by your ability to perform all your day-to-day activities, which together comprise a lifestyle. 

Strength training is the key factor in an active aging process. Strong people are more able-bodied and self-sufficient. Studies show that lifting weights can improve your quality of life into your 80s and 90s. Steady exercise can help recover lost vitality, reverse physical frailty, and manage chronic health problems like osteoporosis, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. You are never too old to begin a weight-training program and the sooner you start, the longer you benefit.

(c) Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Spring is the Season for Hip Fractures

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

New research reveals that most hip fractures occur in the spring in women over the age of 55.  Falls are the leading cause of these fractures in post-menopausal women, emphasizing the need for counseling to reduce the risk of falling both inside and outside the home.

As published In the current issue of the National Osteoporosis Foundation Report (April 2014), a group of researchers examined fracture data from 60,000 post-menopausal women from the US, Canada, Australia and seven European countries.  They found that only hip fractures showed a seasonal variation, with the majority occurring in the spring.  The main cause was falls resulting from slipping or tripping, both inside (52%) and outside (48%) the home.

One contributing factor could be lower levels of Vitamin D due to reduced exposure to sunlight over the winter which manifest in spring, however this was not studied. In addition to adequate Vitamin D, we need enough calcium to mineralize the bones.  Due to conflicting results of several major studies regarding calcium supplementation, experts recommend that the safest and most effective source of calcium is found in food choices, not supplements, and that exercise is key to bone health, specifically weight bearing and strength training exercise.

For more on the calcium controversy and types of exercise beneficial to the bones, please refer to this previous blog post.

Which Exercise is Best for Osteoporosis?

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Over the years, many women have come to me for guidance on the best exercise for their bones. Their questions vary, asking for help in interpreting the results of their bone density test and what those numbers mean in terms of choosing safe and effective exercises. Each individual is unique but there are general guidelines that apply to all. 

One woman saw me working with my regular client in her gym and asked whether I could advise her on her personal situation. She said that in an effort to strengthen her bones she had continually increased her weights, as per the advice of her doctor.  But now she had developed shoulder, lower back and knee issues from lifting too much weight. Although the guidelines for strengthening healthy bones call for high impact, high resistance exercises, it’s counter-productive to overload the joints to the point of injury!

Another woman had been diagnosed with osteoporosis and came to me for a fitness consultation.  She was so stymied by her diagnosis that she had stopped exercising for fear of causing further damage to her fragile bones. There are many safe and effective exercises for osteoporosis, but you need to bone up on the guidelines.

Between these two extremes, there lies a perfect course for your own routine. The National Osteoporosis Foundation classifies exercises in four groups, beginning with those that are most effective for building bone and, in diminishing intensity, those that are safer options if you've been diagnosed with low bone mass, osteoporosis or are frail.

Group 1: Weight-Bearing, High- Impact, Resistance Activities

  • Weight-bearing:  standing exercises where you are resisting the force of gravity
  • High-impact:  activities where both feet are off the ground
  • Resistance:  applying resistance to the muscles using bodyweight, weight lifting tools (like free weights, stretch bands and tubes, weighted balls) and weight machines
  • Examples:  jogging or running; jumping rope; basketball; weight lifting

Group 2: Weight-Bearing, Low-Impact Activities

  • Weight-bearing:  standing exercises where you are resisting the force of gravity
  • Low-Impact:  activities where one foot is always on the ground
  • Examples:  walking and treadmill walking; cross-country skiing and ski machines; elliptical trainers; stair climbers

Group 3: Non-Impact, Balance, Functional Exercises

  • Non-impact:  activities where both feet are on the ground or you are seated
  • Balance:  exercises to reduce your risk of falls and fractures
  • Functional:  exercises similar to everyday activities
  • Examples:  Pilates and yoga (avoid forward bending postures); Tai Chi; bodyweight exercises like chair squats and heel raises

Group 4:  Non-Impact Activities, Non-Weight Bearing

  • Non-impact:  activities where both feet are on the ground or you are seated
  • Non-weight-bearing:  activities where your weight is supported
  • Examples:  bicycling and stationary bike; swimming; water aerobics; deep water walking

All of these activities enhance your health and well-being; however some are less helpful to your bones.  If you love to bike or swim, for example, try to do some cross training by adding in walking or resistance exercises for the lower body, like chair squats.  But always remember: Safety First! And be sure to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or becoming much more physically active. This information is not intended as medical advice.

For more about healthy exercise for your bones, please see Joan Pagano’s video program “Beat Belly Fat, Bloating, Bone Loss and the Blues:  Simple Steps to a Better You

If you have any questions about your own exercise program, connect with me here.

(c)  Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

 

Join the Conversation: Clueless, Confused or Just Plain Concerned about Bone Health?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show

DATE: Wednesday, June 19

TIME: 8:00-9:00 am ET

LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81

Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS

Fact! According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation most women over the age of 45 fail to recognize their personal risk for developing osteoporosis, the disease of "porous bones," even though the majority of women have at least two risk factors for the disease by this age.

Fact! Conflicting results of several major studies and recommendations by the US Preventive Services Task Force have put into question the benefits of supplements containing calcium to prevent bone loss.

Fact! What do experts draw from this controversy?

  • First, that better studies are needed to clarify the possible risks and benefits of calcium supplements and to whom they may apply.
  • Secondly, that the safest and most effective source of calcium is found in food choices, not supplements.
  • And finally that exercise is key to bone health, specifically weight bearing and strength training exercises.

Join us live on Sirius XM's Dr. Radio Show this Wednesday, June 19 from 8-9 am. I'll share all the insider tips that I've learned over the past 25 years as a fitness professional and address questions such as:

  • What are the major risk factors for osteoporosis?
  • What is the difference between weight-bearing and weight-training exercise?
  • How can you work these exercises into your lifestyle, no matter what your fitness level?
  • What kind of exercise is safe if you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis?

Call in with your questions and comments to 877-NYU-DOCS

Vivacious host Dr. Marina Kurian sets a lively tone in her show and engages her audience with humor and personal insight. I'm always delighted to appear with her! Catch us live this week:

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show

DATE: Wednesday, June 19

TIME: 8:00-9:00 am ET

LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81

Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS

 

 

May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Answers to Your Bone Health IQ Test

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

How did you do on the Bone Health IQ Test in last week's blog? If it raised your awareness of your personal risk for developing osteoporosis, you get a gold star! Here are the answers to the questions:

1. Primary risk factors for osteoporosis include gender and age.

True: Being female and of older age are two top risk factors.

2. Osteoporosis is an inevitable part of the aging process. All women in their 80s have this disease.

False: While it true that osteoporosis becomes more common with age, it is not true that every older person gets it. About half of women in their 80s have it.

3. Prolonged low estrogen levels – such as those seen in young women who exercise or diet excessively and in postmenopausal women – may cause irreversible bone loss.

True: In women, the sex hormone estrogen protects bones. Low estrogen at an early age is just as damaging to the bones as low estrogen after menopause. You may never be able to recoup the lost bone.

4) Sedentary individuals in general have less bone mass than exercising individuals.

True: People who are bedridden, are inactive or do not exercise are at high risk for osteoporosis.

5. It’s normal to lose height with age, so don't be alarmed if you're shrinking.

False: Loss of height of more than one inch is cause for concern. Vertebral fractures can cause height loss and when there is no pain, you may not be aware that you have them.

6. Thin women with small frames are less likely to develop fractures from osteoporosis because their bones are not stressed by excess weight.

False: Small, thin bones are more fragile and vulnerable to fracture.

7. Peak bone mass, which is achieved by age 30, is a significant determinant for risk of fracture over the lifetime.

True: Peak bone mass is the point at which you have the greatest amount of bone you'll ever have. From this time on, you begin to lose bone very gradually. More "bone in the bank" means better protection once bone loss begins.

8. You should have a bone density test if you are 50 or older and have broken a bone in a minor injury.

True: You can't feel your bones growing weaker. Often, breaking a bone is the first clue that you have osteoporosis.

9. Calcium and appropriate exercise are both important for bone health. If you are calcium deficient, you can compensate by exercising harder.

False: Calcium and exercise have an additive effect on bone. Exercise stimulates new bone growth and calcium mineralizes the new bone.

10. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, you should immediately begin doing vigorous exercise, pushing yourself to your point of tolerance.

False: If you’ve been diagnosed, you want to protect the spine and avoid falls. Switch to low impact activities (walking, elliptical, cross country ski, etc.) and lift lighter weights with higher repetitions. Balance training is important for fall prevention.

May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: What’s Your Bone Health IQ?

Monday, May 13th, 2013

A study conducted by the National Osteoporosis Foundation revealed that most women over the age of 45 fail to recognize their personal risk for developing osteoporosis, the disease of "porous bones." Even though the majority of women have at least two risk factors for the disease by this age, they do not perceive themselves to be personally at risk.

In order to bridge the gap between perception and reality, take this True/False quiz to boost your bone health IQ. The answers will appear next week in this blog.

  1. Primary risk factors for osteoporosis include gender and age.
  2. Osteoporosis is an inevitable part of the aging process. All women in their 80s have this disease.
  3. Prolonged low estrogen levels – such as those seen in young women who exercise or diet excessively and in postmenopausal women – may cause irreversible bone loss.
  4. Sedentary individuals in general have less bone mass than exercising individuals.
  5. It’s normal to lose height with age, so don't be alarmed if you're shrinking.
  6. Thin women with small frames are less likely to develop fractures from osteoporosis because their bones are not stressed by excess weight.
  7. Peak bone mass, which is achieved by age 30, is a significant determinant for risk of fracture over the lifetime.
  8. You should have a bone density test if you are 50 or older and have broken a bone in a minor injury.
  9. Calcium and appropriate exercise are both important for bone health. If you are calcium deficient, you can compensate by exercising harder.
  10. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, you should immediately begin doing vigorous exercise, pushing yourself to your point of tolerance.

Tune in next week for the answers!