How to Run with Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is reduced bone density, where the bones are more porous and more likely to fracture upon impact or with a fall. Far from causing osteoporosis, weight-bearing exercises such as running actually increase bone density and help to prevent, or at least slow down the development of this disease.
Although osteoporosis is often found in elite female runners, the cause is actually from low body weight and lack of menstruation, which in turn reduces oestrogen levels and affects the lay down of bone tissue. It is over-training and a poor diet that causes the disease, in conjunction with a very low body weight which affects hormone levels. Running may only be detrimental when osteoporosis has already been caused due to the continued impact or a fall causing a fracture.
Bone density is known to reduce after the menopause due to hormonal changes reducing the amount of bone tissue laid down – women can lose up to 20 per cent of their bone mass within just a few years of finishing the menopause, so regular running is a very positive thing to do for females.
If you can tick any number of the boxes below, you are increasing your risk of osteoporosis, and taking up or continuing running will help to offset any reduction in bone density due to these common lifestyle habits.
Factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis:
- Lack of regular weight-bearing exercise such as running or walking
- Poor calcium or vitamin D intake
- High protein diets
- Very low body weight
- Missed periods or menopause
- Regularly consuming coffee or other caffeinated drinks
- Running will boost your bone density, but you should choose even ground to reduce the risk of a fall.
- Regular running will improve joint stability and muscle strength, decreasing the risk of a fall in everyday life.
- The impact of running will increase bone density in the bones in your lower half of your body, but you should also do weight training to enhance the bone density of your upper body.
Make the most of running to build your bones
You can maximize your bone density by regularly running before and into your 30s, as this is when most bone tissue is laid down, with bone density peaking around age 30. However, running after age 30 will still promote optimal bone density – if you don’t use it, you lose it!
It seems that running will benefit most health conditions and even help to prevent the occurrence of some of them. Just remember these guidelines if you are unsure of your health:
- Get a pre-run check-up with your doctor before you begin.
- Get help and advice from a health and fitness coach or personal trainer.
- Take it easy to begin with.
- Listen to your body!
Filed Under: Fitness & Health Tips