April 25, 2009

Doctor's Orders: Pump Iron & Run

"Keep up the long-distance running and start lifting weights," my doctor recommends, "because studies show than running [alone] doesn't guard against loss of bone density."
Of course, I'll heed the advice but investigated this directive and found some interesting results from a recent study (2/09) at the University of Missouri, on men ages 19-45:

"The results of the study confirm that both resistance training and high-impact endurance activities increase bone mineral density. However, high-impact sports, like running, appear to have a greater beneficial effect,” said Pam Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

Hinton's study on Low BMI and Bone Loss in Young Women (5/08) showed that "bone mass in women peaks at age 30 and is stable until age 50 when a rapid loss begins to occur. Men stay relatively steady over time and do not experience a significant bone loss until age 70."

She also found that "the skeleton responds to impact or weight-bearing activity such as running, soccer, volleyball, group exercise classes, and resistance training. Swimming, walking and cycling will not help build or maintain bone mass.

Hello, old friend
With the advice to start pumping iron, coupled with the above research, I'll attempt to augment my fitness plan. Adding another element to will prove a balancing act—especially of time. In the past I've mixed things up (various combos of running, cycling, spinning, lifting, yoga, etc.) but found that at eventually there were too many activities in the ring before one got knocked out. Still, it's worth another round.

Some benefits will be work-out variety, guarding against particular over-use injuries and, of course, keeping up my BMD.
I love to cycle—about as much as running—so the bike stays in the picture.

After months and months of running as my major bread and butter, when I road for the first time this season I was pleasantly surprised at how many miles can be traveled in so little time.
How many bike miles equal one mile of running?
My first longer, windy, farm land ride of the season.
(imagine the scent of cow manure.)

This is going to be fun!


Running and living said...

I'd add getting your calcium in and checking your family history to the recommandations (osteoporosis is highly genetic)! Good luck with weight lifting. For me, having weights at home helps a lot, and I manage to do 1-2 short sessions weekly when life is not too crazy. Ana-Maria

Laurel said...

Emily, Thanks for the interesting post. In my twenties as a high mileage runner, I struggled with bone density issues due to low estrogen levels because of extremely low body fat from all my running. I was put on estrogen replacement but was afraid of the links estrogen replacement has to different types of cancer. So under the advice of my MD, I hired a trainer and added strenght training and dropped the estrogen replacement. I've been doing strength training in one form or another for the past 20 years (you'd never know it to look at me!) I now have excellent bone density measurements, even in my mid-forties when a lot of women are loosing bone mass.

Here's how I compare bike miles to running miles...1. I wear a heart monitor to keep the effort honest (unlike with running, you can cruise along at very little effort on a bike) 2. At equal heart rates, an hour of riding equals an hour of running from a cardio standpoint. Same goes for cross country skiing as far as I'm concerned.