Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Proof of the Health Benefits of Weight Bearing Exercise

At the ripe old age of about 20, I sat on a weight bench for the first time and pumped a little iron.  The year was 1981.    Rachel Mclish was my mentor at the time - the first Ms. Olympia (1980). An interview in 2008 revealed her age of 52, 5'5" tall and 126 pounds. and she lifts weights, runs, and skis/snowboards today.  For the past 32 years, in some form or fashion, the iron has always been part of my life.  Maybe not as a priority in some years, but it never completely went away.  Nor did walking, running, and more recently, swimming, kayaking, mountain biking and adventure racing (lifting, crawling, jumping, etc).  Last year my mother was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis and since that time, I've been getting every test I'm permitted to get to be sure I'm not at risk. (If women aren't completely through menopause, you can't get the official bone density scan.).  Most health seminars have portable versions of a DEXA scan machine of some sort - either the heel scan or the hand scan.  Last week, my annual boob squishing came with a free DEXA scan of my hand.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get the scan.  And the results proved those past 32 years of running, jumping and lifting paid off big time.  My scan results were +2.9.   Looking at the chart below, I'm off the chart.  Anything above a -1 is considered good.  The chart the radiology tech showed me didn't go any higher than +2.9.  She told me, "whatever you are doing, don't stop doing it."  So girls, don't stop running, jumping and lifting - ever!  I'm living, walking proof of strong bones through exercise and getting enough calcium.  My calcium sources are NOT from dairy and I limit meat consumption to about once a week (maybe).  I get my calcium from plant sources (soy milk, greens, seeds, blackstrap molasses) and take Vitamin D supplements.   Its working.

Normal boneT-score greater than -1
OsteopeniaT-score between -1 and -2.5
OsteoporosisT-score less than -2.5
Severe (established) osteoporosisT-score less than -2.5 and 1+ osteoporotic fractures