With over 80 active participants from several countries this virtual event was a resounding success! Thanks to your support, we collectively raised $1,625 to benefit the national organization American Bone Health, a nonprofit that I’ve volunteered with for the last 8 years to increase community bone health awareness and fracture prevention.
It is with gratitude that I express to you my thanks for showing up, being engaged, and asking thought-provoking questions!
Two questions from the chat that I wanted to answer here are:
1) Is walking considered a bone-building exercise?
2) Should I use a weighted vest?
1) Walking is not considered bone-building exercise but it is great for your heart if you keep up a good pace. It’s also good for osteoporosis in terms of bone maintenance, helping to prevent further bone loss. So keep walking and if you can add hills and vary speed-even better. Keep in mind that we experience about 0.5-1.0% of bone loss yearly. The rate of loss due to menopause can jump to a 2-5% loss those 5-6 years post-menopause due to the dramatic drop in estrogen. If your T score remains the same over time that’s a good thing, you’re preventing loss as what you’re doing is offsetting the natural 0.5-1% yearly loss.
(Palombaro KM. “Effects of walking-only interventions on bone mineral density at various skeletal sites: a meta-analysis.” J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2005;28(3):102-7.)
2) A lot of people with osteoporosis ask about using weighted vests. Some designs are not suitable for those with osteoporosis including ones where the vest sits on the shoulders with the majority of weight in the upper trunk. This can put undue downward pressure on the spine promoting hyperkyphosis (an exaggerated rounding of the upper back) that puts the spine at risk of increased fracture. Weighted vests should not be used by those with hyperkyphosis or spine fractures.If you are cleared by your healthcare practitioner to use a vest, make sure the vest has a snug fit, is weighted throughout the trunk with the majority of weight close to your hips. Start with a small amount of weight and make sure to use the spine sparing hip hinging technique we practiced in my Osteoporosis Do’s and Don’ts Workshop to avoid rounding your spine.Weighted vests with lunges, squats, step-ups, side lunges and small jumps 3x per week build bone in the hip according to Christine Snow’s bone research lab at Oregon State University.
(Long-term Exercise Using Weighted Vests Prevents Hip Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Women by Christine M. Snow, Janet M. Shaw, Kerri M. Winters, and Kara A. Witzke Journal of Gerontology: 2000, Vol. 55A, No. 9, M489-M491)
While there are no definitive studies on how much weight a vest should have, experts recommend anywhere from five to ten percent of a person’s body weight. This recommendation is based on studies on maximum weight allowances for backpacks. Too much weight can result in injury.
Back extension exercises are great for the spine.
Remember that back extension exercises (lying on your belly lifting your chest and head slightly, improve the strength of the muscles in your spine and don’t carry the risks of a weighted vest. The pull of the muscles on the bone stimulates bone growth. A study by Dr. Sinaki from the Mayo clinic showed fewer fractures even 10 years after the study in the group that did back extension exercises vs the control group.
(Sinaki, M, et al. 2002. “Stronger back muscles reduce the incidence of vertebral fractures: A prospective 10-year follow-up of postmenopausal women.” Bone, 30 (6), 836-41.)
(Sinaki, M., et al. 1996. “Can strong back extensors prevent vertebral fractures in women with osteoporosis?” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 71 (10), 951-56.)