Dealing with the impact of osteoporosis

With Mother’s Day having just passed we are getting lots of questions at 360 Fitness from clients who are looking for tips to give to their wives, mothers and sisters to help out with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can affect both men and women but let’s focus on the ladies today. Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. It can develop rapidly or very slowly over time.

Osteoporosis is definitely more common in women, especially Caucasian women, with several factors increasing your chances of developing it: women who smoke, who naturally have small bones, women who are post-menopausal and women who are petite or under healthy weight limits for their size.

Osteoporosis is nobody’s friend and can seriously change your daily life and everything in it. Fortunately, nowadays we have the knowledge and know how to see it coming and we have some great tools on our belt to help ease, slow down and sometimes completely prevent osteoporosis.

The first and most advantageous treatment is to choose weight-bearing activities such as weight training or aerobic exercises with small hand weights. Many women are afraid of building large, bulky muscles and it scares them off from weight training. This is 100% a myth and you do not have to worry about this if it is not your goal. This cannot happen unless a large quantity of food is taken in along with extremely heavy weight training. If you choose to begin weight training as a source to increase bone density, find a qualified professional in your area to take you through some total body conditioning workouts. First time exercisers can seriously injure themselves if the movements are not performed correctly. If you are an avid fitness enthusiast and you have experience in the gym then keep it up! Use your dumbbells and resistant bands with reps around eight-15 with moderate weight to keep your bones and muscles strong.

Next, increase the amount of calcium you are taking in. Many doctors will recommend that women over the age of 35 should take a calcium supplement even if they exercise on a regular basis. Your body will take what it needs from the supplement and eliminate the rest. For calcium supplementation, start with 1000mg a day of calcium, calcium citrate or coral calcium. Select a well recognized brand and don’t just go for the cheapest version (you get what you pay for when it comes to supplement quality).

Post-menopausal women may want to consider estrogen therapy. Lower estrogen levels can cause a decrease in bone density. There is a concern for women who have irregular menstrual cycles because their bodies might not be producing enough estrogen. If this is your problem, consult your physician and take the proper course of action.

Here are some food sources to increase the calcium in your diet:

* skim milk

* shrimp

* Greek yogurt

* sardines

* low-fat yogurt

* oysters

* low sugar frozen yogurt

* broccoli

* 2% cottage cheese

* parmesan cheese

Last but not least, if you smoke – quit! Nicotine in cigarettes is a contributing factor in bone density reduction. Also, smoking hinders exercise, which is needed to increase bone mass and of course deteriorates your most important muscle- your heart.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-347-1707 or check out for more information.