How to exercise to maintain healthy bones after menopause | Get information

Laura has just returned from the doctor with a clear diagnosis: at 51, more than a year after her last period, she has just entered the postmenopausal stage. He has doubts, but his main concern is osteoporosis. Your doctor has told you about the importance of exercise and an active lifestyle, but how does it affect your bones and what can you do to offset the negative impact menopause has on your health?

During this phase, the production of female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) decreases. In particular, estradiol has beneficial effects on bone health and therefore menopause contributes to accelerated loss of bone mineral density. This is called osteopenia, and in later stages the bone may lose more density and its structure may deteriorate until osteoporosis (porous bone) or even bone fracture occurs.

For this reason, the role of exercise is important as a tool for preventing and reversing osteoporosis. Research shows that exercise is beneficial for preventing fractures and reducing falls, especially when it is focused on the bone areas most susceptible to loss of bone mineral density in the lumbar region: the head and neck. femorofemoral region; These, in turn, are the areas most commonly affected by osteoporotic fractures.

Scientific studies have shown a modest benefit of exercise on bone mineral density in the lumbar region, hip, and thigh in postmenopausal women, regardless of bone health or menopausal phase. Likewise, there are benefits regardless of the type of exercise performed (aerobic, strength, or combination) when it comes to improving bone mineral density levels.

The effect of exercise on bone mineral density loss may be more beneficial in the early stages of menopause than in later stages. Research is clear on this point: people who engage in impact sports and strength training lose 1–3% less bone mineral density than people who do not exercise; and the benefits will be greater if progressive strength exercises are included, especially for the lower body.

However, there are certain types of physical activity that are not as beneficial due to the lack of bone stimulation, so they will not provide the same benefits as the activities listed above. Although aerobic exercise can be beneficial for other aspects of health, swimming or cycling is not recommended if the goal of exercise is to improve bone health.

On the other hand, current scientific evidence points to possible negative effects associated with long-term use of contraceptives, especially those that are based solely on progestogens. If you have reached menopause and have been on birth control for a long time, exercise is essential for bone health.

For all these reasons, here are the latest recommendations set out in the 2022 UK Consensus Statement on Physical Activity and Exercise for Osteoporosis:

To increase bone strength:

Introduction to striking exercises.
  • Activity type: moving from light impact activities (walking, marching, stair climbing, Nordic walking, etc.) to moderate impact activities (high jumping, skipping, jogging, zumba, racquet sports, team sports, etc.). It is important to include a variety of movements (changes in direction, speed, etc.).
  • Frequency and amount per week: most days. 20-minute sessions are enough. If you are already introducing moderate impacts (jumping, running, or changing direction), 50 impacts is sufficient.
Introduction to strength exercises:
  • Type of activity: it is necessary to introduce strength training, preferably with weights, for both the upper and lower extremities. Exercises for extension of the spine and hips, as well as progress in loads, are especially important.
  • Frequency and number of workouts per week: 2-3 times a week and 3-4 approaches per exercise are enough. Building muscle mass will benefit bone health.
  • Exercise intensity: progress in intensity. To start, prioritize your technique and try to work with loads up to 80-85% (high loads).
Introduce exercises that challenge balance.

Specific strength and balance training can prevent falls, which is a very important factor in preventing fractures.

  • Type of activity: Specific balance exercises or classes such as tai chi, dance, yoga or Pilates.
  • Frequency and quantity per week: 2-3 times a week. But if you fall, it is recommended to do them daily.
Introduce postural exercises and strength exercises to the abdominal area (“core”):
  • Type of activity: exercise basic, especially targeting the spinal erectors. Other activities that help achieve this goal include swimming, yoga and Pilates.
  • Frequency and quantity: 2-3 days a week.

However, the inclusion of certain exercises must take into account the bone mineral density level of the person who begins the training program, since the training design is different for a person who already has osteoporosis or for a person who has the correct level of bone mineral density. Therefore, it is always advisable to have a physical activity and exercise specialist to properly guide and monitor the program.

Exercise is a fundamental part of our health, especially as we enter a new phase of life when menopause tests us. We must respond with movement and life.

FIND this space HEALTH OF THE COUNTRY where we will talk about those aspects related to physical activity, sports and physical and mental health. Physical activity and sport are part of the culture of all civilizations and play a fundamental role in the health of society at all levels, both physical and mental, at any age, from childhood to old age, in both men and women. Physical activity and sport sciences have attempted to expand scientific knowledge about the importance of movement and exercise to the body, as well as the processes that explain why certain adaptations, modifications, or changes occur under different conditions (physiological, anatomical, motor). emotional or cognitive). For all these reasons, this space strives to find scientific explanations that justify and justify the beneficial reasons for physical activity and sport. Additionally, it will attempt to discuss and debunk certain myths or false beliefs that exist in society on specific topics of exercise and health.

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