You can strengthen your bones and avoid osteoporosis and its close cousin osteopenia by exercising and eating right. Even better, if you have osteoporosis, you can dramatically slow its progress.
How, you ask?
First, we have to understand that bones do not necessarily have a preset timeline. Generally, we tend to think that we have been born with a certain bone density that gets better through the mid-twenties and then begins to decline until you die. On the contrary, bones are moving tissues. Specialized cells that disassemble (osteoclasts) and build bone (osteoblasts) send these tissues in to a continuous state of breakdown and renewal. Osteoporosis/penia is diagnosed when the bones breakdown faster than they can be repaired and holes form, which results in weakness.
We see then that the key to building strong bone is to increase the release of osteoblasts to a specific region. And make sure those cells have enough spackle to do the restorative work they need to do.
DRUGS! NOM NOM NOM!
You may consider taking supplemental Vitamin D and calcium. If you take a combination supplement, it’s recommended that people under 50 take 400 to 800 and people over 50 take 800 to 1000 IU a day. I have personally found much success with 5,000 to 10,000 IU a day. This higher dose may also be associated with decreases in body/belly fat.
“Which is better? The treadmill or elliptical?”
Your body will adapt to whatever you put it through and studies have actually shown that bones develop stress lines. While stress lines are less than desirable on the face, bones strengthen themselves in a pattern that protects the tissue from whatever stress it encounters. So if you jog and slam the end of your leg bones in to the treadmill, you constantly cause a trauma that your body builds up a resistance for….it strengthens your leg bone.
The constant impact across the length of the bones sends a signal to your body. This signal lets your system know it needs to send more calcium-carrying Osteoclasts to strengthen the “attacked” tissue.
The same goes for weight/resistance training. Although a 15-25 repetition exercise is great for building stability and increasing endurance, it doesn’t do much for strengthening bone…so those of you who do water aerobics, aerobics classes and high-repetition programs aren’t doing much for your bones. Eight to Twelve repetition exercises (meaning that you can’t do more than twelve because the weight is so heavy) have been shown to increase/maintain bone density.
What if I’m not old and don’t have Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis starts earlier in life than you may think. If you consistently have too little calcium in your diet, your body will use up some of the supply in your blood and then begin leaching it from your BONES (remember that calcium is used in many areas of the body including muscle contraction). Without calcium available, the muscles of the body won’t be able to function…it only makes sense that the body would begin to eat at its supporting structure rather than cease the function of your heart, lungs and muscles….think about starving in a gingerbread house!
Eat your calcium (spinach, leafy greens, milk), exercise regularly and get SUN!