Treating My Osteopenia

osteopeniaGrowing old. What a nuisance. Wrinkles, gray hair, enlargement of the suborbicularis oculi fat pads – a.k.a. eye bags big enough to pack a picnic lunch. And now bones returning to dust right inside of me.

This tirade stems from the results of my Dual X-ray (DXA) bone densitometry test. In the past eleven years, my osteopenia has gotten worse (surely, it’s a measurement error!) to greatly increasing my risk of hip and spine fractures as I age. (But I love to ice skate – talk about falls!)

No surprise as I have so many risks: older, white, small-boned female, lowish BMI (cosmetically slim), never took estrogen, bisphosphonates (Actonel) did nothing, used to smoke, loves wine (modestly reduces calcium absorption) and coffee (modestly increases calcium excretion).

My diet is balanced enough, albeit lowish in protein because I don’t eat much meat and eggs and, like most others, I don’t meet my personal requirements for calcium and vitamin D: 1,200 milligrams of calcium – some say 1,500 – and 600 i.u. of vitamin D– some say 800) per day. And what about boron, vitamin K, phosphorous, and other key nutrients for bone health? I’ll comment only if you ask.

I do eat yogurt faithfully and, sometimes, milk in cereal. I eat my dark leafy greens and nuts and, sometimes, fish with bones; however, calcium from plants is not well-absorbed (oxalates and phytates interfere with absorption), I rarely drink a glass of milk or eat cheese, and I never have calcium-fortified orange juice or breakfast bars. (Personal preference: yuck!) According to the lab, I’m not vitamin D deficient (vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption), but I’m sure I don’t eat enough fatty fish, liver, cod liver oil, egg yolks, radiated mushrooms, or fortified milk – most yogurt is not fortified  – and I don’t get enough strong sun. But I’m not about to eat more because, as a short older women, I practically can’t eat without gaining weight. (Young ones, wait and see.)

And so, I have to take supplemental calcium and vitamin D. I take Nature Made adult gummies Calcium with Vitamin D3 four a day at doses of 500 mg or less between meals to increase absorption. (Add another 150 calories.) These suplements are acceptable because, frankly, they taste like candy. Each gummie contains 250 milligrams of calcium and 350 i.u. of vitamin D, which should keep me within the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for  gender and age. The calcium is tricalcium phosphate, a well absorbed source, and vitamin D3 (vs. D2), the best form. Still, research tells me not to expect much.

Weight-bearing exercise also helps to build bone. I walk a lot, jump on the mini-trampoline a bit and do Pilates consistently. But that doesn’t cut it. Now, I have to take up running or jumping up onto and down from a box at least 15 inches high to generate enough force to help build bone. (See the New York Times, Why High-Impact Exercise Is Good for Your Bones.) Since 15 inches is more than a quarter of my height, jumping on the box won’t work, and if I liked to run, I’d have done it by now, but like the supplements, it’s therapeutic. What a nuisance.

Your thoughts: Have you had a bone densitometry test? What did it reveal? Do you take calcium supplements?

Jumping on the Mini-trampoline, 30 Days Later

Last month, I sort of made a commitment to jump on the mini-trampoline for 30 days, and now I am here to report the results: 12 days of jumping / 30 days = 100% success in my book. I’m happy because I decided that 30 days of anything is a bore and 30 days of one exercise constitutes over-doing it. This is what else I found:

Jumping is Fun
There’s a reason why kids like bouncy castles and jumping on the bed. I am outta here if it’s not fun.

Jumping Uses the Upper Body
It’s not easy to find an aerobic activity that engages the upper body, but with the jumping jacks, upper body twists, basket ball hops, and others, I’m working harder than I would on the treadmill or bike.

Jumping is Plyometric
Pylometerics are the single most important kind of exercise you can do to strengthen the bones. With plyometrics, the muscles are repeatedly employed, rapidly stretched (“loaded”) and then contracted, as in jumping high off the ground or in push-ups with a clap between. Jumps (two feet), hops (one foot) and bounds (taking off on one foot and landing on the other) are all plyometric moves on the mini-trampoline.

Jumping Aggravates Stress Urinary Incontinence
Not that I have it, but I can see where jumping and running would cause urine to leak, especially in aging boomer females who are mothers. I learned that, before jumping, it’s important to empty the bladder and not to forget that Kegels call.

Jumping is No Substitute for Daily Hip Exercises
As I’ve explained, I met my lifetime sitting quota while working in the corporations and now I have to undo the damage to my hips. I swear that without these hip exercises from my favorite About.com guide, the Guide to Sports Medicine, I would be in perpetual pain, but with them, I am fine.

Jumping Helps Skating; Skating Helps Hips
Last week, I went ice skating and I remembered how good it is for the hips, the glutes and the groin. My ice skating is enhanced by the cardio workout, plyometrics and balance involved in jumping on the mini-trampoline. And, I hope my bones are strong in case I fall. New commitment: I plan to skate once a week followed by a Hot Toddy and an epsom salt bath.

And so, I’ve changed my commitment to match my reality: 2-3 days a week of jumping on the mini-trampoline (from JumpSport Fitness), plus walking for transportation, Pilates twice a week, passive stretching, some ice skating, and stuff for my hips. Now there’s no time for anything else. How’s that for commitment?

Your thoughts:  What’s your commitment to healthy movement?

See 30 Days on the Rebound(er): Jumping on the Mini-trampoline

30 Days on the Rebound(er): Jumping on the Mini-trampoline

I sort of decided to try something new for 30 days related to exercise.  I say “sort of” because, like all ENFPs, I am easily bored with daily routines, but then since discipline itself is novel to me, this new task holds my attention – for now. (Take the Myers Briggs-type personality test here.)

My chosen exercise is jumping on the mini-trampoline, called a rebounder.  I chose it for several reasons, foremost of which is, because I’m a health blogger, I got a Fitness Trampoline™ by JumpSport® for free.  My mini-trampoline is about 3-feet wide and 1-foot tall, and in my postage stamp of a Brooklyn apartment, it serves as a coffee table, ottoman and airy bed for visiting dogs. And since it’s here to stay, I decided to use it to get more fit.

What’s Not to Like?

Today is day five out of seven. (I can’t do it while my downstairs neighbor is home on the weekends.) I do 20 minutes of cardio, soon to be 30, and that’s enough because I do Pilates and walk everywhere, not owning a car. I use JumpSport’s video tape staring Kathy Jo Burgett, a trainer of a certain age (hooray!)  We bounce, jog in place, twist, and do jumping jacks and side-to-side things; it raises my heart rate, but not excessively, without hurting my joints. Unlike running or stair climbing, the soft trampoline does not have traumatic impact on my muscles, tissues and joints, but it does maintain my bone density by working against gravity. The action also improves my spatial awareness, coordination and balance, which makes it perfect for a potentially fall-prone boomer like me. My pesky IT band problem seems to be better too – no proof of cause-and-effect – but at least it’s not worse.

Lymph Notes

All over the Internet, articles say that the mini-trampoline is great for the lymphatic system, but I could not find supporting research – which doesn’t make it untrue. Lymph is a fluid, collected from the tissues, that contains lots of white blood cells that destroy bacteria and, as they say, “toxins, wastes and cancer cells.” (Roll out the skull and crossbones.) I think the mini-trampoline helps the lymph system as much as any exercise that involves gravity and muscle contraction. Still, it’s fun to say the word “lymph” and to think about its mysteries.

Safety

Because any trampoline presents a hazard for serious injury, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement about trampolines. Use a trampoline at your own risk.

Your thoughts: Is trampoline jumping for you? 

See Jumping on the Mini-trampoline, 30 Days Later