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Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)


Why do you exercise? Ask any enthusiast why they exercise and you're likely to get a litany of answers. These can range from wanting to lose weight, to building a stronger core or running a faster 5K. Rarely however does anyone answer "to build stronger bones."

Since bones are out of sight - they don't hang over your waistband - they are sometimes overlooked as an exercise priority and are rarely considered until one is fractured. However, keeping our bones strong and healthy is just as important to our overall well being and should rate high on your exercise importance list. Bones help with every movement we make and maintain our height and our posture.

Bones are in fact complex living organs that are highly responsive to how we load them. In exercise, we can load them through direct impact or via muscle pulling on the bone. In fact, research shows that sprinters have up to 30 percent more bone in their legs (direct impact from running) than sedentary people of the same age. Similarly, elite level tennis players have been measured to have as much as 40 percent more bone density in their racket arm (loading via muscle tension on the bone) compared to their non-racket arm.

How does this pertain to you? With the incidence of fractures on the rise and an estimated 50 percent of Americans over age 50 expected to have low bone density by 2020, now is the time to make positive changes and build healthy bones.

Healthy adults should make a conscious effort to participate in a variety of weight-bearing activities (walking, running, climbing stairs, playing tennis) and resistance training for at least 30 mins, five days a week.

Older adults or those who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis should also do weight bearing activities and resistance training at least three days a week. In addition, it behooves older adults to include balance activities two to three days per week, initially under professional supervision.

For people at risk or those concerned about their bone health, contact your health care provider for a thorough evaluation.

For those who have already been diagnosed, there are certain movement patterns that should be avoided. For example, steer clear of forward flexion exercises (like sit ups and seated rows) or exercises that involve rotation of the spine as these can increase the risk of a spinal fracture.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers. She is a USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, Ironman Certified coach, Slowtwitch Certified coach, USA Cycling coach and has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification. For more training tips, read her blog at or contact her at"

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March 7, 2017


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