Women's health is the topic that is the closest to my heart. Being myself a woman in my mid-40's, I have gone through already some of the amazing phases in the female life and heading to even more exciting times in the upcoming years. That is also what brought me to the topic of "Bones", and you will understand why, when reading the text.
Simply Bones or Living Tissue?
Who has ever thought that it is important to train on your bones? Bones are "simply" the supporting structure we have for our body. They are there and that's it. Why would you train them? Can you even train on them? I have a guess that most of the people are consciously training their muscles or simply improving their general condition. Therefore, let's go into a bit more detail on bones.
We all should think about our bones - in specific women. Our bones might seem like lifeless mass, but that is far away from the truth. "Bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger"*. Small amount of our bones renews every single day, and whether the amount of renewal is bigger than the one breaking down, depends on our nutrition
and the strain we put on it.
Our bones are at their strongest when we are about 20 years old. After the age of 30, the amount of bone mass decreasing is approximately
1% per year. It will continue at this rate, until women hit their menopause and then the speed of decrease in the bone mass might even be as high as 6% (!) per year - until the body gets accustomed again in the new phase of life. The reason why the bone mass decreases that much during the menopause lies in the drop in oestrogen levels. This is again also the reason that exposes women more than men to osteoporosis.
What Makes Our Bones Stronger?
Undoubtedly sports. The sooner you start the better it is, but t it is never too late to start. Versatile sports, in specific sports where you expose yourself to sudden changes of direction, small shocks (jumps, jogging, dancing, tennis, badminton etc). And as an add on, this type of sports also increase the ability to balance, which again reduces the risk for falling and leading to bone fractures.
Women are often afraid of weights. Dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells. They all seem too daunting and even more when we are adding load on them. Very often expecting to become like a 'She-Hulk' after a few sessions! I wish this could work that fast! But working with higher loads is exactly what women need to do! Add more load and work on their strength. More load, less repetitions. But naturally after having learned the right technique. It has been proven that working with heavier weights strengthens the bones on the best possible way. "Weight-bearing exercise is the best kind of exercise to help strengthen bones because it forces bones to work against, gravity, and thus react by becoming stronger"*
D, K and Calcium
In addition to sports, your nutrition plays a big role. Ensure sufficient intake of vitamin D, calcium and vitamin K. Vitamin D contributes to the absorption of calcium in the body and can be consumed for example as sunshine and fatty fish. Current recommendations suggest taking vitamin D supplements during the other seasons than summer, in order to ensure sufficient intake. Calcium is the building material for bones and daily intake is vital for our bones. In addition to this, calcium benefits of the presence of vitamin K. They can be seen as colleagues who cooperate. Calcium builds the bone and vitamin K then again activates the necessary proteins required for the bone formation and also slows down the activity of the cells in the breakdown process.
Where can you find calcium? For example in dairy products, plant-based milk products, almonds, oats, quinoa and kale. How to combine these with vitamin K? Ensure your intake of dark green vegetables like (once again) kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and also chickpeas. There is plenty of other options too!
Did This Get to Your Bones?
I do hope it did. What should you do to work on your bones? Ensure you move on a versatile way. Include in your routine sports where you have sudden changes of direction, get small shocks on your bones, work with heavy weights and lift, plus ensure that your nutrition includes sufficiently calcium on a daily basis in addition to vitamin D and vitamin K. That should give you a good basis for staying strong, getting stronger and maintaining your bone mass!
Keen on finding out more on how you could work to strengthen your bones, reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source for direct quotes* NASM, 6th edition