How CrossFit Training Can Prevent and Cure Osteoporosis

Cure Osteoporosis with CrossFit

One of the most serious health concerns for anyone 50 or older is osteoporosis, a disease which can lead to bones becoming weak and brittle and much more likely to fracture. This chronic condition can affect your grandparents, your parents or you if you are a part of the “baby boomer’ generation.

The interesting thing about osteoporosis is its cure. Orthopedic specialists note that the condition can be prevented or corrected with vigorous exercise, including weight training. It is for this reason that CrossFit training is becoming an important part of every older person’s life.

Before getting in to how and why this high-impact exercise cures or prevents osteoporosis, here are some sobering facts about the disease.

Bone of Contention

According to the Mayo Clinic, osteoporosis “affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women — especially older women who are past menopause — are at highest risk. Medications, healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.”

Basically, older individuals contract osteoporosis due to the nature of human bones as they age. Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn't keep up with the removal of old bone.

Fight loneliness and Osteoporosis

Just the facts from the International Osteoporosis Foundation:

  • Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.
  • Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide.
  • Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan.
  • For the year 2000, there were an estimated 9 million new osteoporotic fractures, of which 1.6 million were at the hip, 1.7 million were at the forearm and 1.4 million were clinical vertebral fractures.
  • Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.
  • Nearly 75% of hip, spine and distal forearm fractures occur among patients 65 years old or over.
  • A 10% loss of bone mass in the vertebrae can double the risk of vertebral fractures, and similarly, a 10% loss of bone mass in the hip can result in a 2.5 times greater risk of hip fracture.
  • Osteoporosis takes a huge personal and economic toll. In Europe, the disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers  and is comparable or greater than that lost to a variety of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure related heart disease
  • In women over 45 years of age, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, myocardial infarction and breast cancer.
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    A Recent Study on High Impact Exercise and Osteoporosis

     

    German researchers recently published the results of their study on the effect of high-impact exercise, including weight training on reducing the incidence of osteoporosis. The results were surprising.

    Bone density scans were taken at regular intervals of all participants including a control group of 43 and diet, medications, weight changes, depression and other factors which might affect this exercise regime were considered in the analysis. Of the group of regular, high-impact exercisers, bone density decreased by 1.5 percent in the spine and 5.7 percent in the hip. Among the control group (which did little or no exercise), spine bone density declined by 5.8 percent and hip density declined by 9.7 percent. Researchers found this difference between the groups as significant.

    CrossFit group exercising

    Supervised Weight Training

    If vigorous exercise, including weight training, is the key to preventing or correcting osteoporosis, what part can CrossFit training play in this process? The answer is not as simple as it seems.

    The challenge for older individuals who choose to undertake any type of exercise regime lies in the potential for injury while completing the workout. Thus, if the workout is not structured properly – designed and supervised by a professional CrossFit trainer - the “cure” becomes more dangerous than the disease.

    As is the case with anyone, or any age, proper diet and a regular, managed CrossFit training program can literally increase bone density and prevent or correct osteoporosis. According to RX Review, “The best way to build bone mass is through weight bearing exercise. Research has shown that resistance training and impact loading exercises can restore bone mineral density in middle-aged men and women.” This includes weight training, jogging and plyometrics.

    Eating the correct food and getting more vitamin supplements are also critical to this process. RX adds, “Most of us get these micronutrients from milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables. If you are in your 40’s or older, you may want to consider taking supplements that contain Calcium and Vitamin D.”

    Before embarking on any CrossFit training, anyone 50 or older should see their family physician or orthopedic specialist to get a bone scan in order to determine their current bone strength. The physician will make recommendations as to the pace of and rigor of the exercise program.

    CrossFit experts suggest the following weight training to prevent or correct osteoporosis:

    • Any exercises using weights – starting slowly, with less weight
    • Dead lifts
    • Clean and jerk
    • Back Squats
    • Tire-flipping – starting with lighter weight and progressing
    • Running – starting slowly and increasing pace
    • Aerobic exercises

    If you care about your parents, grandparents or your own health as you age, check out CrossFit training. Osteoporosis is one disease that can be prevented and even cured. All it takes is a regular program of high-impact, but supervised, exercise.

    Have you had an experience with osteoporosis with yourself or a family member? Did you use CrossFit training to correct this condition? Contact us  and tell us about it. We will share with our community.

    1 Comment

    Randy L Mitchell
    Randy L Mitchell

    May 22, 2019

    When I was 47, I went to visit my Mother. She was wearing a tank top, and when she turned around, I was amazed at the pronounced kyphosis she had. My Grandmother had the same sever kyphosis. I asked my doctor for a bone density test, and he said it was not necessary since I was perimenopausal. Later that summer I was at a health fair and I did a screening using my foot, and the technician pulled me out of the line of older woman. He said I had thin bones. I contacted my OB/Gyn for a test. My test came back with two osteopenia sites, and one osteoporosis site. He started me on Fosamax. I took it for ten years. After studies came out that woman on Fosamax were having unusual femur fractures, I told the Doctor I would no longer take it. After the next two years, the dexa scan showed no further bone loss, but know new bone growth. He said if it doesn’t improve in the next two years, he would put me back on medication. I then found myself retired, and joined a Crossfit gym at 61. Two years after that, I went in for a dexa scan. The Doctor said my scores were out of the park! He asked me what I was doing and I told him I have been Crossfiting for the last two years. He said, “If you say so.” I continue to Crossfit at age 66. My Dexa scan at 65 showed that my bone density was normal for my age!

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