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Time to Get Squatting

Update: Fnord tells me that weight lifting is considered "muscle-strengthening" and not "weight-bearing" and that what i'd actually have to do is jump and run. It's entirely possible that i responded with something highly uncomplimentary.

The Toast has an article up on bone health. Before we get into that, can i just point out that the author has a PhD in "bioarchaeology". It's like she went to a school that just said "What do you like doing? We'll create a degree for that thing." I either went to a shit university or i didn't take advantage of the opportunities at my school to make up a goddamned major that i might have actually enjoyed. I am so bitter.

Anyhoo, back to bone health.

There are two types of cell responsible for bone maintenance - osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts build bone, and osteoclasts take it away. The body is highly responsive to changes in activity, and bone is constantly updating itself accordingly. The general principle is that your body thinks what's happening now will happen forever. In response to more activity (known as physical stress), bone will accumulate more osteoblasts to strengthen itself. Each step makes tiny microfractures, which tells the bone "Come on, I'm breakin' here! Give me more strength!" and the osteoblasts pile on. In the absence of activity - during periods of prolonged sitting or lying down - the osteoclasts come in to take away unnecessary bone. Generally it gets sent out of the body in your urine. The basic principle is that the more activity you do, the stronger your bones will be.
I will now tell you the Secret Tricks to Maintaining Bone Density Doctors Don't Want You to Know: you had to build it in puberty, and you have to keep exercising to maintain it. As far as my research has shown, you can keep building bone and increasing bone density up until your 20s. After that, you can maintain or decrease your bone density. It's quite easy to decrease bone: just do nothing. To maintain it, you need weight-bearing exercise. Osteoblasts respond to microfractures, so the way to keep those osteoblasts occupied is by running, jumping, bouncing on your bosu, Zumba, those crazy-intense boot-camp push-ups. Things that (sadly) will not work: cycling, swimming, yoga. Not that those aren't healthy activities! They are still excellent for the heart, for weight maintenance, for stress. But they do nothing for your bones.

The bad news (for me, obliviously. i don't know what you do): i hate running, jumping, and push-ups. I'm also a HUGE fan of doing nothing.

The good news: i don't hate weight lifting (except split squats. split squats are the devil, i tell you. The. Devil.).

What about supplements, you say. Well, like most vitamin supplements,

There are a number of recommendations around the web, including eating eggshells, leaping like fleas, consuming 1200 milligrams of calcium daily, and taking various supplements. The problem with taking supplements is that if you aren't actively processing the calcium, you'll just pee it out.

Stupid expensive pee.

At this point, fnord and i can only work on maintaining the bone density we have. There's no way to increase it. That ship has sailed, my friend. [emphasis mine]

The best time to build bone is right around puberty, during the adolescent growth spurt. Yes, the time when you might get your period any moment and you smell terrible and your limbs are flying around all uncoordinated - this is when you needed to be doing the most exercise. (But watch out! Too much exercise, especially combined with eating disorders - I'm looking at you, ballet and gymnastics - and your periods stop and your bones get weaker.) Bones continue to grow with less velocity until the early 20s, stopping slightly earlier in women than men, and generally have completed their growth (in both length and density) by age 25. Sorry, over-25s: it's all downhill from here.

I guess now's the time to thank my mom for forcing me to take ballet for 9 years. Take that, osteoporosis!

By min | March 28, 2015, 12:36 PM | Science


Muscle strengthening exercise is also helpful for maintaining healthy bones, as is low impact cardio (but, not as good as high impact cardio, but they bring on their own issues as we age).

i'd rather hit a heavy bag. jumping's for suckers.