About two months ago, I had my first bone mineral density (BMD) test performed. It was part of a free fitness assessment given to a group of health bloggers at The Nutrilite Institute of Health. Fortunately, my BMD was good. I would encourage everyone to get the BMD test.
Everyone is susceptible to osteopenia (less than normal BMD) if steps are not taken to avoid the condition. Osteopenia can often lead to full blown osteoporosis.
It is not enough just to exercise when it comes to improving and/or maintaining adequate BMD. According to research, weight-bearing exercise will improve your BMD.
So, what’s the rub regarding how weightlifting, soccer, cycling or swimming affects your BMD? The winners are: weightlifting and soccer. Why? Because both weightlifting and soccer place an extra load on skeletal bones and that promotes bone development.
In a study reported on by Pediatric Physical Therapy, soccer places repetitive, weight-bearing loads on bones and is an excellent choice of exercise. Weightlifting obviously places loads on the bones. Soccer is particularly recommended for adolescent girls. The research shows us that a well-rounded exercise program will maintain a healthy BMD. A combination of running, weightlifting and swimming would be an excellent choice for your program.
What about cycling? Look at this study:
Pam Hinton (coauthor of the study), associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia stated, “You would think that cyclists are very healthy because they spend all those hours training. In other aspects they are — cardiovascular health and body composition. But in this one aspect, they’re not doing so well.” Some of those with osteopenia were in their 20s and 30s, “and that was pretty alarming to me,” Hinton says. “I thought I’d just see it in guys who were older and had been riding for years.
"When you’re young, you should be maximizing your bone density,” she says, “and as you get older, exercise slows the rate of loss. So it’s really important no matter where you are in your life to be doing some kind of bone-loading exercise.”