Extra Weight and Osteoporosis: Move It and Lose It

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • When you have osteoporosis, exercise can be a challenge. You’re afraid of making the wrong move – literally. Even a diagnosis of osteopenia can make you think twice about vigorous physical activity; the jogging, tennis, and step aerobics you used to engage in without a second thought now give you pause. Still, there are times when you simply want to drop a few pounds. What to do?


    The good news is, women with osteoporosis are more likely to be thin than overweight; being small-framed is a chief risk factor for osteoporosis.


    The bad news is, there are still a significant percentage of women with osteoporosis who aren’t thin, who want to lose weight – and who are unable to follow a typical exercise regimen that would lead to fitness.

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    Want some more good news, though? You don’t have to run 5 miles, sweat your way through a vigorous cardio kickboxing class, or play a game of pickup basketball to stay fit. 


    A recent study from California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory followed nearly 50,000 Americans, some of whom jogged for exercise, some of whom walked. Results showed that those who walked gained just as much health benefit in certain areas – lowered cholesterol, and a smaller risk of heart disease – as those who jogged: so long as they walked the same distance as those running. 


    In other words, jogging provides more cardiovascular benefits than walking if both are pursued for 30 minutes; but jogging 3 miles and walking 3 miles provide similar benefits.  


    And what about weight loss? Is less vigorous physical activity – walking, gardening, housework – as effective as more active ways of shedding pounds, like running on the treadmill?


    Yes – so long as the duration of activity is sufficient. 


    Weight loss is mostly about “calories in, calories out.” You gain calories when you eat; and you need those calories to live: breathing, sleeping, moving your hand, calories are the fuel that powers your body.


    Too many calories in with too few out, however, causes weight gain. And most of us tend to consume more calories than we expend, unless we add exercise to our daily routine.


    Forty-five minutes of vigorous walking – think striding purposefully, rather than strolling – might take you 2 ½ miles on a circuit around the neighborhood. And it’ll burn about 225 extra calories. 


    For a typical woman, 45 minutes of step aerobics burns about 450 calories: twice as many as walking, for the same amount of time spent. Which doesn’t make aerobics superior to walking; just faster. 


    Your exercise options may be limited by bone loss; but they’re not eliminated. Staying fit and trim for you may mean, walk, don’t run. But it doesn’t mean sit and do nothing. 


    Commenting on the California study, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Doireann Maddock, observed that “These scientists have shown us that any brisk physical activity, not just those long, exhausting runs, can be great news for your heart health.” 


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    Continued Maddock, “"Whether it's walking, jogging or running, staying active will help to control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health." (Smyth, 2013)


    Bottom line: keep moving!




    Smyth, C. (2013, April 05). Walking is as good as jogging for heart health, a new study has found. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/walking-is-as-good-as-jogging-for-heart-health-a-new-study-has-found/story-fnb64oi6-1226613122957



Published On: April 29, 2013