Sep 8, 2010

It Does a Body Good

by Juliann Boubel, BS, CSCS
Aging affects everyone differently, and it is no secret that our bodies start to breakdown as we grow-up. While some effects show up visibly through wrinkles and grey hairs, other changes are internal and vary quite differently between men and women. Both sexes experience things like vision loss and joint pain, but hormonal changes differ between genders. Women, for example, experience a gradual loss in estrogen production beginning around age 30, and a rapid loss post-menopause. Estrogen is a female sex hormone that helps in bone growth and maintenance. Because of this decline, women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis than their male counterparts. Osteoporosis is a degenerative skeletal disease that results in loss of total bone mass as well as bone structure. Though the risks are greater for women because of the decline in estrogen production, men are also at risk for osteoporoses due in large part to external factors that contribute to the disease. Things like smoking, body-mass-index, and calcium intake put both men and women at risk for low bone mineral density (BMD). 
The American College of Physicians found that a staggering 54% of women above the age of fifty will have an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetimes. 
While this number is greater for women, mortality rates are higher for men than women within the year following such an injury.

The good news is, these effects can be somewhat reversed through diet and exercise. While Hormone Replacement Therapy is largely used to help compensate for lowered estrogen levels in women, exercise and mineral supplementation has actually been shown to partially undo the effects of bone loss for both men and women. The body stores most of its calcium in the teeth and skeleton; so, as we age it is important to build calcium stores early to create lasting supplies throughout our lifetime. Our muscles use calcium to contract and if we do not get enough of this mineral in our diet, then the body begins to actually deplete the bones of its stores. Even taking a supplement (click here for more info) with as little as 600mg/day in conjunction with Vitamin D can help increase stores early on, both aiding muscle performance and bone function.

The human body adapts to imposed demands; thus, resistance exercise actually stimulates bone growth and repair. 
Doing “weight-bearing” exercises such as bicep curls and leg presses aide in preventing and managing osteoporosis. 
Even though endurance exercises like as walking and running do help bones, the Department of Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University has found that these changes only mildly affect the BMD of the main limbs used in activity.  There needs to be a level of activity that is far greater than what the body is accustomed to doing daily. It is therefore important to conduct resistance exercises using multiple muscle groups and at challenging level of resistance. So set yourself up for success! If you catch yourself falling off track, bust out those sneakers and head on over to Prevail for a class or some one-on-one guidance for a program tailored to you, schedule a check-up with your doctor and ask about starting a calcium supplement. The best kind of maintenance is preventative maintenance so jump-start strong bones and a strong future today.

Julian Boubel, BS, CSCS is a Strength & Conditioning Coach for Prevail Conditioning Performance Center and works with athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.  For further information regarding this topic please contact Juliann Boubel, BS, CSCS at


1.  Benton, Melissa J., and Andrea White. "Osteoporosis: Recommendations for Resistance Exercise and Supplementation With Calcium and Vitamin D to Promote Bone Health." Journal of Community Health Nursing 23.4 (2006): 201-211. Web. 2 Sep 2010.

2.  Liu, Hau."Screening for Osteoporosis in Men: A Systematic Review for an American College of Physicians Guideline." Annals of Internal Medicine 148.9 (2008): 685- W138. Academic Computing. Web. 02 Sept. 2010.

3.  Maclean, Catherine. "Systematic Review: Comparative Effectiveness of Treatments to Prevent Fractures in Men and Women with Low Bone Density or Osteoporosis ." Annals of Internal Medicine 148.3 (2008): 197-W38. Web. 2 Sep 2010.

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