Guest Author - Tammy Elizabeth Southin
Give a boost to your menopausal years with weight bearing exercise. Donít worry, this doesnít mean bench pressing hundreds of pounds. Weight bearing exercise refers to exercises that put enough weight on your bones to help keep them strong. The best part is that there are many activities that strengthen bones without feeling like exercise at all.
Maintaining bone density is crucial during menopause; during this time bones tend to become brittle. Since our bodies cannot produce calcium, we need to ensure we get the right amount of calcium in our diets every day. Our bones act as a type of holding tank for calcium Ė the body uses up that calcium and we need to replace it. Too little calcium greatly increases the risk of osteoporosis.
What role does exercise play in keeping our bones healthy? Physical activity puts a little pressure on the bones. In turn bones work to strengthen themselves in reaction to that pressure. Thatís why the bones need that calcium to be present. Itís the combination of adequate calcium and exercise that prompts the bones to Ďshore upí or in other words to increase their density. With regular weight bearing exercise, you will be encouraging your bones to gain strength to help stave off breaks and fractures.
Keeping our bodies strong means less fear of falling as we age. Maintaining a sense of independence includes being able to perform daily tasks without worrying about breaks and fractures from the simplest of activities. Mobility allows us to continue doing most if not all of the things we enjoy. Immobility due to fear will prevent us from being vital and independent. Weight bearing exercise keeps our bones and muscles in better shape.
What are some examples of weight bearing exercise? Walking, running, jogging, hiking, dancing, weight training and gardening are all weight bearing exercises. A brisk thirty minute walk every day will keep your legs, knees and ankles fit. Weight training involves using light weights (ideally one or two pounds) to build the bones in your wrists and arms. Even a couple of large soup cans will give you enough resistance to help strengthen your bones. You can also use resistance bands to stretch out your arms and legs, even while sitting.
You can also try tai chi, yoga, golf, tennis, squash, racquetball, and curling. Each of these activities requires walking or stretching. Thatís the good news Ė there are so many ways to participate in exercise that helps strengthen bones. Once you find an activity you enjoy, you are more likely to stick with it and the best part is that it wonít seem like exercise at all.
Even if you avoided exercise for the last few years, itís never too late to begin. Talk to your doctor before starting any type of exercise. You may need to have a bone density screening test to know how your bones are and what types of exercise you will be able to do. Depending on the state of your bones, you might need to start with simple activities such as chair exercises or short walks. In time, with regular physical activity and adequate calcium intake, your risks for osteoporosis will decrease. More importantly your quality of life during and after menopause will increase.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You