Strength Training for Women and Girls

by admin September 28, 2010

Tomorrow is National Women’s Health & Fitness Day

When people think about weight-bearing exercise, most picture a buff body builder struggling to lift weights at the gym. In reality, weight-bearing exercise takes the form of many types of physical activities and is necessary for optimal health, especially for women and girls.

Tomorrow is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day which aims to educate women and girls on the importance of regular physical activity and encourages smart health decisions. In honor of this day, The Orthopaedic Institute wants to highlight the importance of weight-bearing exercise in women’s physical fitness programs.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, regular weight-bearing exercise is a necessity for reaching top strength and maintaining bone density. Any activity you do on your feet that works your bones and muscles against gravity is considered weight-bearing exercise.

Dr. Phillip Parr, Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery, recommends that weight-bearing exercise begin in childhood through organized sports, running and other forms of exercise. In adulthood, physical activity tends to lessen but walking is an easy form of weight-bearing exercise that anyone can participate in.

“Walking is just as effective as jogging or running,” he said. “If anything, it is better for your joints and you don’t have to be an athlete to do it. Ultimately, you should find something that you enjoy doing so you continue with it regularly.”

Weight-bearing exercise that Dr. Parr recommends:

  • Running, jogging, brisk walking
  • Dancing, step aerobics
  • Weight training
  • Team sports – Soccer, baseball, flag football
  • Racquet sports - Tennis
Bone is living tissue that constantly breaks down and reforms. Regular weight-bearing exercise causes the bones to adapt to the weight impact by building more cells and becoming stronger.

To sustain the bone strengthening benefits of weight-bearing activity, the intensity, duration and amount of stress applied to the bone must increase gradually over time. Young women and girls should especially concentrate on building strong bones to prevent Osteoporosis later in life.

Osteoporosis is a loss of bone tissue that affects about 10 million people in America. Additionally, almost 34 million more people are estimated to have low bone mass, putting them at an increased risk for the disease, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.

Women in their twenties, thirties and forties need to participate in weight-bearing exercise and take supplements to ensure as little loss in bone density as possible, Dr. Parr said. That is when most women stop exercising as frequently, and it is a critical time for Osteoporosis prevention.

Besides improving bone strength, regular exercise increases muscle strength, improves coordination and balance, and leads to better overall health. The recommended amount of exercise is at least 30 minutes per day, four or more times per week.

Aside from regular weight-bearing activity, foods rich in calcium (found in dairy products) and Vitamin D (found in vegetables and fish) also help support healthy bone growth. Supplements are recommended if there is a deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D in diets.

A Vitamin D deficiency is something that many people aren’t aware they suffer from. This vitamin allows the body to absorb the calcium which is why you see many types of milk that are fortified with it, Dr. Parr said.

In celebration of National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, take the opportunity to add a new weight-bearing exercise to your fitness regime and reap the benefits of healthier and stronger bones!

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TOI's Blog is dedicated to patient education with topics addressing current issues in health and medicine. We will also blog about some of our other favorite things, like community events, our wonderful employees, helping the environment and whatever else comes to our minds! We hope the information contained in our blog is fun to read, assists you in making educated decisions regarding your health, and supports your decision to select TOI when you are in need of quality musculoskeletal care.

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