Too Much Exercise Bad for Bones?

Too Much Exercise Bad for Bones?

Winter Walking
Winter Walking

There have been reports in the media that too much exercise can be bad for one's bone health. Balance is the key with so many things in life, including exercise! There is a large body of knowledge about the benefits of exercise. Too much exercise, especially with women, such as long distance running without appropriate amounts of food or rest, can lead to ammenorea, bone loss, and osteoporosis in young women athletes causing The Female Athlete Triad.

Very few of us will reach that level of too much exercise. Easing into an exercise program and keeping it within reasonable limits is very beneficial for bones. Check out my recent exercise guidelines blog post.

“If exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” – Robert H. Butler

From the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Position Stand on Physical Activity and Bone Health:

"The general recommendation that adults maintain a relatively high level of weight-bearing physical activity for bone health does not have an upper age limit, but as age increases so, too, does the need for ensuring that physical activities can be performed safely. In light of the rapid and profound effects of immobilization and bed rest on bone loss, and the poor prognosis for recovery of mineral after remobilization, even the frailest elderly should remain as physically active as their health permits to preserve skeletal integrity….Maintaining a vigorous level of physical activity across the lifespan should be viewed as an essential component of the prescription for achieving and maintaining good bone health."
Read the full article.

Why one person has bone loss and another doesn't is very individual.

Reasons can range from:
Bone development before age thirty
Adequate physical activity over a lifetime
Body chemistry
Stress levels
Excessive exercise
Unknown reasons

Besides reminding our skeletons that they need to stay strong, exercise has profound effects on health.

Walking Tippy2“Americans’ lack of exercise will cause seven million early deaths in this decade, according the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services,” said Janet Walberg Rankin, Ph.D., ACSM president and an associate dean at Virginia Tech. “With chronic diseases—including heart disease, stroke and diabetes—responsible for seven out of 10 deaths, and with physical activity and exercise shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic conditions, healthy lifestyles must be a part of the health care equation.”“It’s good medicine, it’s sound science, and it’s an economic necessity,” said Robert Sallis, M.D., FACSM, a physician with Kaiser Permanente and past president of ACSM who chairs the Exercise is Medicine global health initiative. “Chronic diseases account for 75 percent of the nation’s health care spending. Increased physical activity can play a powerful role in treating these problems and, even better, in preventing them from occurring in the first place. If the benefits of exercise could be captured in pill form, it would be the most widely prescribed drug in the world.” Full article.

I think that I'll go out and walk my dog!


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