Bone density, osteopenia, and osteoporosis are terms we are hearing more frequently. Bones are porous yet sturdy. If porosity increases and bone mass decreases, this can weaken the bones. Osteopenia is the precursor to osteoporosis. If you think of these terms as if they were warnings for a ship at sea, osteopenia would be the indicator that a storm is coming in (some bone loss) and osteoporosis would mean that the storm is already here and you’re in it (high degree of bone loss). Thanks to technology we can now measure bone density, so positive steps can be taken to avoid an alarming outcome such as a fracture. Women are at higher risk than men for bone loss and these groups can also be further sub-divided for risk. This is a simple explanation for bone health; there are many excellent resources for information in print and on the internet.
Exercising is one of the things you can do to help build and maintain healthy bones. Activities for bone health are generally described as weight bearing. Weight bearing exercises put stress on the skeletal structure and your bones react by supporting the stress. Walking and weight lifting fall into this category, but current studies are showing that some higher impact activity can make a more significant contribution to bone health. It makes sense if you think about it – when you lift weights your muscles react by becoming stronger and toned. If you jump up
and down, your bones react similarly.
Performing high impact activity can also have other benefits. Some high impact exercises can also
improve coordination, agility, balance, and endurance.
Are you a good candidate for high impact exercise? The jarring and intensity of higher impact activities means you need to closely evaluate if it is appropriate for you to start an exercise routine that involves high impact movement. If you are currently diagnosed as having osteopenia or osteoporosis, the risk factors (such as fractures) may outweigh the benefits. Activities that are lower in impact could be more appropriate in this case and a discussion with your physician about an exercise plan is vital. If you have a cardiac condition, an autoimmune disorder, any joint problems, or other medical conditions, consulting your physician before staring a high impact exercise routine should also be considered the first step.