Bones come in all sorts of shapes, lengths, and sizes. They can be found all over your body and count 212 in total. Bones play a key role in the structural support, blood formation, organ protection, and physical movement of the body. The bones serve as storage deposits for the calcium our body requires for; creation of new bones and teeth, aiding in nerve impulse conduction, and muscular contractions. Your bones will reach their peak mass on average between ages 25 - 30 for both sexes and thereafter gradually decline throughout your lifespan. The amount of bone mass you possess as an adult, and then later as an older adult, are determined by your peak bone mass in your younger years. So, good bone health practices are extremely important to begin from an early age.
When your bones have a low mineral content, mass, or density you could be showing signs of the condition Osteopenia. Even worse still then Osteopenia is that you could be suffering from the silent disease, Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bone and deterioration of bone tissue which currently affects 12 million Americans and will increase to ail 14 million citizens by the year 2020. Despite a 10 year period following menopause, the rate of bone loss is similar between the sexes. With similar rates of bone mass and density loss over the lifespan why are women so much susceptible to the breaks of osteoporosis?
There are a number of reasons the disease Osteoporosis afflicts more women than men worldwide. The top reason contributing to more women suffering from Osteoporosis is sex hormone deficiency, or a lack of the female sex hormone estrogen. Other contributing factors include; irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles, late onset of first menstruation, removal of ovaries (at any age), low caloric intake, low calcium intake in diet, low bodyweight or physical size, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and finally LACK OF WEIGHT BEARING EXERCISES. From this long list of factors an important triad of risk has been established that affects our active female competitors. The Female Athlete Triad refers to a condition usually afflicting highly active female athletes that includes; disordered eating habits, low total energy intake, and very high energy expenditure rates. This trio of risks in turn will subject our female athletes to the risk of ceased menstruation (amenorrhea) and accelerated cases of Osteoporosis. Well what can we do to ensure are bones don’t bend and break?
The avenues to combating osteoporosis are nowhere near as complicated nor costly as you may think, but that is only true if you start fighting early. The most cost effective and least complicated way to combat the onset of osteoporosis is to be active. The only catch is that your intensity must be above leisure levels to be beneficial to bone. Aerobic activities performed at moderate to high intensity for 30-60 minutes at least 5 days of the week will positively influence bone. Similarly resistance training routines must be rigorous and somewhat heavy to affect bone health. Additional osteoporosis deterrents include; increased calcium and diary in your diet; increased bodyweight and total caloric intake; decreased alcohol, salt, sugar, and caffeine consumption; and to end with cessation of cigarette smoking.
Arm yourself and your family with the knowledge needed to ensure that your bones won’t crack under the pressures of life. Remember the fight is a lifelong one, so they earlier you begin to prepare for the marathon the better off you will be at the finish line. Stay active, eat a well-balanced diet, and remember that consistency is the key to achieving all of our health and fitness goals.