Walking for Healthy Bones

John Faith has been with Metro Run and Walk since 2004

John has been with Metro Run and Walk since 2004 and enjoys being active!

Just Walking

About twelve years ago, Moving Comfort rolled out an advertising campaign that became a mantra for many women – “A Fit Woman is a Powerful Woman.”  Several years later, they riffed on it and “A Fit Mom is a Powerful Mom” was born – and also became a mantra for many moms.  With apologies to Moving Comfort, I’d like to offer a more specific riff – “A Moving Mom is a Powerful Mom.”

The “average” customer at Metro Run and Walk isn’t a runner.  She’s a 40-something Mom whose kids are older and in school most of the day, who finds she has a little more time on her hands, and who’s decided she wants to either get into shape, or BACK into shape.

Just about every day, when a customer comes in for shoes and I ask them what they’re doing, or plan to be doing in their new shoes, I hear, “I only walk.”  Those of you who’ve had me wait on you know the first words out of my mouth when hearing that is, “The first thing I want you to do, is take the word ‘only’ out of that sentence.  Walking is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and is probably the most under rated exercise on the planet.”  Not everyone needs to be a runner – God knows, not everyone WANTS to be a runner!  (How many times do I hear “I HATE running!”?)  But, most of us enjoy walking and, as I said – it’s very good for you.

Walking for Healthy Bones

As we age, we tend to lose bone and muscle mass.  This is true for both men and women, but the loss accelerates specifically in post-menopausal women and in some older men.  In fact, the leading cause of hip fractures in adults is osteoporosis.  The best defense against osteoporosis is weight bearing exercise – literally “use it or lose it” (your bones and muscles!).  Obviously it’s best if you get into the habit of routine exercise while younger and make it a lifelong health habit – a regular part of your life – but we can all benefit from regular weight bearing exercise.

Weight bearing exercise doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be confined to only walking or running.  It can also take the form of aerobics (think Jazzercise), basketball, bowling, dancing, golf, pickleball, racquetball, tennis, yard work, – anything where you’re standing on your own two feet and moving around vigorously.  Your exercise choices are virtually unlimited!

By the way, weight bearing exercise does NOT include pool aerobics, as your buoyancy in the water negates most of the effects of gravity!  Similarly, as wonderful, fun, and beneficial as they are, swimming and bicycling are NOT weight bearing exercises!  They’re great for cardiovascular and aerobic fitness, but don’t count when it comes to weight bearing, which literally means you’re bearing your weight (standing) as you go through motions that exercise various muscle groups.

Obviously, if you have a condition where you’re unable to perform weight bearing exercise, pool aerobics, cycling, and swimming can be good choices for you, as you still derive some degree of muscle and bone mass improvement – just not as much as if you were doing true weight bearing exercise.

So – how much do you need?  Years ago (probably decades ago!), I think the US Surgeon General came out with a pronouncement that to achieve a basic level of fitness, the average adult needed to exercise for thirty minutes three times a week.  More recent studies now say that this needs to be increased to a minimum of thirty minutes four times a week, and some are suggesting five days a week.

Is Exercising Three Days a Week as Good as Five?  www.nhs.uk

Finally, diet and exercise go hand in hand.  It’s important to eat a diet that provides a healthy balance of nutrients, but for those in danger of diminished bone mass, a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D is crucial.  (The Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption.)  As in most things in life, the “all things in moderation” caveat applies here as well – please see your doctor if you think you have any issues regarding osteoporosis.

Click HERE for more information about the benefits of weight bearing exercise.

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