Why To Exercise Today: It May Be Better For Your Bones Than Drugs

Medical Express shares an edifying interview here with Wendy Kohrt, a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Colorado and an expert on the effects of exercise on bones as we age.

So what are the benefits of exercise on new bone development? “We generated increases in the neighborhood of 2 percent,” Kohrt said.

That sounds … pathetic. But wait! Kohrt explained exercise elicits similar bone growth improvements as do medications, but the true difference lies not in the increase in bone density, but in bone strength.

With drugs, it’s a 1 to 1 ratio. If you increase density 2 percent, you increase strength 2 percent. With exercise, and this is being conservative, it’s a tenfold difference. Kohrt explained a 2 percent increase in bone mass can translate into a 20 percent increase in bone strength, and perhaps as much as 40 percent.

It’s important to note these are animal studies, because, well … they needed to break the bones to find out how strong they are. Not many people volunteer for those kinds of studies. “When you exercise, the stresses only occur in the regions of the skeleton that experience that stress,” Kohrt explained. Drugs aren’t targeted, but if there are specifically weak areas of your skeleton, you can give them extra attention via focused training. That’s good.

Read the full, fun interview here, and hat-tip to reader Tom Anthony for pointing it out.

Why To Exercise Today: Protect Your Bone Density

Many thanks to “Mind The Science Gap,” a worthwhile blogging project by public health students at the University of Michigan, for this excellent post among many others. It argues that exercise is good for far more than weight loss, and avoiding osteoporosis — even if it seems to young women like a problem of the distant future — is one of those many reasons.

The post cites “A recent study in Sweden” that “confirms that high-impact exercise can improve bone density in younger women, giving them better protection against developing fractures as they age.”

Many types of exercise can help shed pounds, but only weight-bearing exercise—for instance, jogging as opposed to swimming—is recommended for increasing bone density.  Weight-bearing exercise requires resistance from muscles and bones, which helps to make them stronger.  While weight-bearing exercises have been known to be the key type for developing stronger bones, the newest research suggests there may be differences even between similar activities.

Daily Rounds: Health Insurance Profits Soar; Fosamax Questions; Probiotics For Diarrhea; Public Against Obamacare Repeal; Menino Fights For Insurance Flexibility

Health Insurance Profits Soar, Dem Calls For Rebates “Health insurance profits are skyrocketing in 2010 compared to last year’s returns and the outgoing chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the companies is calling on them to return the profits to consumers in the form of premium reductions.” (Huffington Post)

Fosamax Lawsuits Question Wide Use of Osteoporosis Drugs – NYTimes.com “The trial is providing a palpable backdrop for a broadening debate among many doctors and researchers who are rethinking Fosamax and similar bone medications known as oral bisphosphonates, particularly as a treatment for women who have not yet developed osteoporosis.” (The New York Times)

Medical News: Probiotics May Help Treat Acute Diarrhea – in Infectious Disease, General Infectious Disease from MedPage Today “One way to battle diarrhea-causing gut bugs is to introduce even more gut bugs, two major reviews found.” (medpagetoday.com)

Poll: Public mixed on GOP tax, health plans – BostonHerald.com “When it comes to the health care law Obama signed in March, just 39 percent back the GOP effort to repeal it or scale it back. Fifty-eight percent would rather make even more changes in the health care system or leave the measure alone.” (Boston Herald)

Menino seeks more control over health insurance costs – The Boston Globe “Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed yesterday to go to Beacon Hill to fight for a state law that would allow the city of Boston to save millions of dollar on health care insurance. Tweet Be the first to Tweet this! Yahoo! BuzzShareThis Menino said he could save at least $12 million a year if he gained the authority to shift a larger share of the city’s insurance costs from taxpayers to teachers, police, firefighters, and other city employees, retirees, and elected officials.” (Boston Globe)