In my blogpost on October 19th I mentioned a recent interview I had with the Toronto Star on exercise and osteoporosis. The article, When Exercise Becomes a Hazard, did a good job of capturing some of the key messages I have for my clients.
A week after this publication I was interviewed in a second article, Osteoporosis Defence Begins in Teenage Years, went on to discuss the importance of bone building at a young age.
At Function to Fitness, my Physiotherapy and Personal Training studio in Ottawa, I develop safe and effective exercise programs for clients with osteoporosis. Many of the principals I discuss in the Toronto Star interview, I share with my clients and incorporate into their programs.
Vivian Song, the writer, did a good job of capturing a number of points I regularly share with my clients:
For parents, that means providing kids with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D during their optimal bone building years, and encouraging a wide range of exercise, says Margaret Martin, an Ottawa-based physical therapist who designed the MelioGuide, an online resource for all things osteoporosis.
“Exercise needs to be as high impact as possible, like basketball, gymnastics or soccer,” Martin said. “And ideally, kids should be doing as many different types of exercises as possible because each sport challenges bones differently.”
More than 25 per cent of all the bone built in a boy’s lifetime will happen between the ages of 13 and 15, while the same will happen for girls during the ages of 12 and 14.
“In those two years, you will acquire as much bone as you will lose in your entire adult life,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to build as much as you can here.”
For girls, the optimal bone-building years can also be defined as the onset of menstruation. The older the girl is before she gets her period, the narrower her window of time for building bone mass. And for many girls with delayed menstruation, the reason can be traced back to eating disorders.
Martin advises both parents and female sports coaches to make a habit of asking girls about their cycles.
“Menstrual cycles are a clear sign of whether or not a girl is at a safe body weight,” she said. “It’s OK to be slim as long as you have regular periods.”
For older adults, strength-training exercises should be at a weight load that tires them out at between 10 to 12 repetitions. Sessions should be about 45 minutes and occur two to three times a week, Martin suggests.