No Bones About It
By Rebecca Hulem, "The Menopause Expert"
Osteoporosis has been called the “silent disease” because often there are no early warning signs. Studies have shown that when a woman goes through menopause she can actually lose anywhere from one to five percent of her bone mass per year. The average loss is around two percent. Bone density that is abnormally low, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis, is defined as osteopenia. Fortunately, osteopenia does not have to lead to osteoporosis. Education about these conditions and early detection is the key.
Determining Your Bone Density
How can osteopenia and osteoporosis be detected early? The best way to determine the strength, integrity, density and total mass of your bones is the Dual Energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, commonly known as the DEXA scan. The DEXA scan precisely measures the total bone density in the body, as well as the density of individual bones in the hip, spine, and arm. This simple, painless test involves lying down on your back and resting your legs comfortably over a cushioned pillow. Now how bad can that be? If the test wasn’t so quick, you might be able to enjoy a short nap.
The x-ray used for the DEXA scan has only ten percent of the radiation in a chest x-ray. Until recently, you couldn’t get this test unless you met certain criteria such as a family history of osteoporosis, a fractured bone, or being at least 65 years of age. Now, you can request this test as early as age 50. Why wait until you are 65 to find out that you have significant bone loss? The medical community has finally realized that to prevent osteoporosis from developing, bone loss has to be monitored and treated as soon as it begins.
Understanding the Cause of Bone Loss
Let’s first talk about the causes of bone loss, and then I’ll explain measures you can take to avoid or minimize it. Even with a healthy lifestyle, some women may be predisposed toward osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Before menopause your bones were protected by three major factors:
Hormones especially estrogen
Your Nutritional Habits
Regular Exercise particularly weight bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, hiking or stair climbing and resistance training.
Hormones, especially estrogen are a primary player to the health of your bones. Throughout your life bone mass has been rising and falling along with your estrogen levels. Estrogen is the hormone that is responsible for stimulating the bone-building activity of the osteoblasts. What’s equally important is that estrogen is also responsible for suppressing the bone-dissolving activity of the osteoclasts. Before menopause the sequence of bone clearing and bone building was balanced by the production of estrogen. After menopause when your estrogen levels fall, the bone clearing operation speeds up and the bone building operation slows down. This delicate balancing act has become lopsided.
The Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide most of the nutrients your body needs for good bone health throughout your life. The two most important nutrients are calcium and vitamin D. Ongoing research tells us that many other vitamins and minerals must also be included in a healthy diet. Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, sodium, and phosphorus are also considered important because our skeleton is formed from minerals. Vitamins C and K provide an important contribution to good bone health as well. They both contribute in different ways to collagen production, which is the first stage of bone formation.
Here Comes the Exercise Word
It is finally time to discuss the importance of exercise in the prevention of Osteoporosis. Continuing a weight bearing and resistance training exercise program after menopause is a must. A routine exercise program is one of the best protectors to help maintain the strength of your bones. Exercise that is done routinely will also help your body continue to build “new” strong bone throughout the rest of your life.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the two kinds of exercise that are necessary to build and maintain bone strength are Weight-Bearing exercise and Resistance-Training exercise.
You’ve probably also heard that traditional forms of weight-bearing exercise are walking, jogging, hiking, stair climbing and dancing. And if you are going to include resistance training you will need to use some form of weights (free or machine) or resistance bands.
In fact to date, resistance training and pharmacology have been the most common methods of treating Osteoporosis.
However, conventional resistance training and its high-impact nature often present considerable challenges to the mature adult (us Baby Boomers) and elderly audiences that are facing the condition.
There is now a form of exercise emerging that is showing itself to be a formidable weapon in the prevention and treatment of Osteoporosis. This form of exercise is called Acceleration Training™ (a.k.a. “vibration training”). This modality of exercise is being made prominent in the United States by Power Plate North America, a Northbrook, Illinois based company.
Acceleration Training™ via Power Plate® works to keep your bones strong by exploiting the body’s innate reflexive response to disruptions in stability in order to stimulate a wide array of benefits. These benefits include increases in muscle strength, flexibility, hormonal release, lymphatic drainage, bone density, metabolic rates and more.
Although Power Plate has never marketed its products as medical devices (more specifically for fitness and exercise), the company is seeing its products bring compelling results to individuals and professionals dealing with Osteoporosis.
Kay Smith, a personal trainer and Pilates instructor from Colleyville, Texas, has experienced significant and compelling results with her Osteoporosis, utilizing Acceleration Training™
She states: “I have never had results like this even with weight training, which I had done for more than 15 years. “Even my doctor is amazed that after the huge drop in my bone density when reaching menopause, I am now building bone in my spine and hips without taking drugs or estrogen.”
“Conventional resistance training methods can create challenges for a wide range of the population either reluctant to, or unable to, engage in the time consuming and high stress obstacles associated with them,” said Scott Hopson, Director of Research, Education and Training for Power Plate North America.
“Acceleration Training™ provides an exciting and holistic alternative, using the natural forces of gravity, in a significantly less stressful and time consuming environment- as little as 20 minutes 3 times per week.”
This sounds like an exciting alternative to me. I had to stop my weight training routine due to bursitis in my left shoulder and arthritis in my neck. So now I have those arms that keep on waving long after the wave is over.
In closing do continue any exercise routine that you have in place, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and take your daily calcium.
For more information on the revolutionary fitness and wellness method that’s showing itself to be a formidable weapon in the prevention and treatment of Osteoporosis,