I always say that making the connection between our muscle strength and our bone health is an often overlooked opportunity. And once again, a new study confirms it while highlighting some astounding differences between the study participants. Women with the least muscle strength were found to be:
Exercising for your bones: simple ideas to get you started
- Go dancing with a friend or partner.
- Take a walk each night after dinner or try wearing a pedometer during the day to track how much you walk.
- Ride your bike to friends’ houses, stores, and work.
- Run up and down your stairs a few times a day.
- Purchase or borrow a Nintendo Wii Fit program (includes dance parties, yoga, tennis games, boxing, and more).
- Jump rope or simply hop on one leg, then the other — or on both.
- Try the OsteoBall, Bosu Ball, or rubber flex bands (e.g., Thera-Band).
- Try bursting several times during your regular exercise routine.
- Use an X-iser step machine for a few minutes a day. Use steppers, free weights, and other strength training devices at your local gym, or wear a weight vest or belt during your workout.
• 13 times more likely to have osteoporosis
• Nearly 3 times more likely to fracture
• More than twice as likely to experience falls
Researchers in Finland arrived at these findings by looking at 590 women ages 56 to 72, comparing their bone strength with their muscle strength. Bone strength was measured by bone mineral density, with women classified as either having normal bone density, osteopenia or osteoporosis. Muscle strength was calculated by measuring muscle mass, handgrip strength and walking speed, with women placed in one of three muscle strength categories.
What does this mean for every one of us?
While we all lose muscle as we age, excessive muscle loss is a sign of overall weakness, and so is excessive aging-related bone loss. Nearly every one of us can use the muscle-bone connection to improve our muscle strength.
• Exercise regularly to maintain muscle mass, and this will help you limit or even avoid aging-related bone loss. Find an exercise you love and do it consistently.
• Be careful with weight loss programs, as you often lose muscle mass when you lose weight.
• When you are trying to lose weight, I suggest incorporating strength training and an alkaline diet to maintain muscle mass during the weight loss process.
Exercise is certainly a key part of my Better Bones Program! Find out more about my approach in the article Exercise and bone health — use them or lose them or visit the Shop section for more information about the Better Bones Program. You’ll also find other ideas for weaving regular exercise into your life.
Reference: Amus, et al, 2013, Relationship between postmenopausal osteoporosis and the components of clinical sarcopenia. Maturitas, 2013, Apr 27.