Fitness Article of the Month
December 1997

I found this interesting article in one of my favorite online publications, Outside Magazine. The author Claire Martin points out some of the positive benefits of load bearing exercise, especially on increasing bone density. Important info for any age! Have a healthy and happy holiday season.
Best of Health. RM

A Positive Impact
By Claire Martin

So you've swapped your running shoes for swim goggles and a life membership at the pool, thinking that no-impact sports mean no physical wear and tear. Not so fast. Contrary to popular fitness wisdom, such a move might undermine your health down the road. A recent study clinched what a few researchers already guessed: Since bone tissue breaks down and rebuilds itself not unlike muscle tissue, stress from high-impact sports involving running, and load-bearing activities like backpacking and weight-lifting, can actually strengthen bones.

In the broadest study yet of bone density, conducted at Australia's Edith Cowan University, doctors surveyed 60 female athletes and found that those who had engaged in high-impact sports for 20 years had much stronger bones than those who swam. "This should alert men and women in their twenties and thirties to start now," says Barbara Drinkwater, a Seattle-based physiologist and one of the country's leading bone density experts. "A lifetime of running and jumping exercises is crucial to bone strength."

That doesn't mean enter a marathon tomorrow. While stronger bones guard against injury, repetitive impact can predispose athletes to stress fractures. So it's wise to ease into any new high-impact sport. Start off slowly and increase your duration and intensity by no more than 10 percent each week. "If you tend to overdo everything, running 80 miles a week, you'll have problems," Drinkwater says. "Run three miles a day and you'll be fine."

This fitness article is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care professionals. Consult your physician before beginning or making changes in your diet, supplements or exercise program, for diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries, and for advice regarding medications. Thanks. RM

Copyright 2001, Ron McConnell. All rights reserved.
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