Notes on osteoporosis and how to maintain and improve bone health in the menopausal years (from FitPro article Autumn 2018) :
Women spend almost a third of their lifetime in a menopausal state, when osteoporosis risk is high.
Common sites of osteoporotic fracture include the hip, lower forearm and spine.
Modifiable risk factors for osteoporosis in women include deficiency in calcium and vitamin D, having a body mass index of <19, chronic smoking, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, gastro-intestinal disorders, glucocorticoid use, and anything which reduces oestrogen – menopause, amenorrhoea and early hysterectomy.
Bone turnover (growth and loss cycle) is stimulated by local mechanical loading, i.e. exercise. The response of bone to exercise is site and load specific. For menopausal women when oestrogen levels decline the required exercise needs to be as targeted as possible. For the lower body JUMPING has been shown to be especially useful for improving hip bone mineral density (BMD), more helpful than walking or jogging, due to the low load of those activities. Small bouts of jumping, e.g TEN JUMPS A DAY, resting for ten seconds between jumps, is recommended to improve BMD. Recommendation is to this BAREFOOTED and ON A HARD SURFACE. Be careful starting out with this.
For the upper body high load resistance exercises of EIGHT TO TWELVE REPETITIONS per exercise, twice a week, help improve BMD. Perform the exercise so that you can only just manage twelve reps.
There is some research suggesting benefits to the hand and wrist directly by an exercise called ‘wall drops’ where you drop into a wall with outstretched arms, building up to 40 reps. This sounds possibly problematic, and I am not recommending it, but light impact is a key aspect to bone remodelling. This could be achieved maybe with medicine ball throws or plyometric press ups against a wall.
Diet wise, foods associated with improvement in bone health include foods rich in calcium, (dairy products, green leafy veg, dried fruit) protein, (1g/kg bodyweight) vitamin D, (sunlight, oily fish, mushrooms, fortified dairy) potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc, (pulses, veg, whole cereals, nuts). PRUNES, 6-8 a day, have been shown to improve BMD in post menopausal women.