I started running about two years ago in an effort to get back in shape and feel better about myself. Since then, I’ve sweat, struggled, cried, and clawed my way to better endurance and speed. All the while, my bone health was the furthest thing from my mind.
At my first half-marathon in 2014.
But as I prepare to run my third half-marathon, I thought it might be important to understand the facts and share them with fellow runners, women, and anyone who wants to keep their bones healthy. Here are five tips and facts to know:
♦ Fuel properly.
Running is good for you! But it can also be understandably taxing on the body. Female runners especially are encouraged to pay attention to bone density and proper nutrition to avoid injury. If you’re feeling weak after your runs, it’s possible that you may not be eating enough calories or burning too much during exercise. Apps that track your calorie intake and estimated burn from physical activity may help to balance your diet.
♦ Add strength training.
Research shows that adolescents and adults who participate in endurance sports such as running, biking, and swimming often have lower bone density than those who participate in high-impact sports. To counter this, consider adding strength training to your routine. This can be done with or without weights.
♦ Cut back on vices.
During training, I find that restful sleep and refraining from alcohol often go hand in hand. In fact, regularly having alcoholic drinks may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Similarly, tobacco use is said to contribute to weak bones. If possible, cut back on alcoholic beverages or seek tobacco cessation support.
♦ Meet your daily requirement.
By age 30, your bones are as dense as they’ll ever be. After that, it’s likely that you’ll lose slightly more bone mass than gained. To keep bones strong, about 1,200 mg of calcium per day is recommended. To put this number in perspective, a glass of low-fat milk contains approximately 300 mg of calcium. In addition to common dairy products, calcium can be found in spinach, broccoli, garbanzo beans, tahini, and salmon.
♦ Spend a few minutes in the sun.
Vitamin D is an important partner in bone health as the body needs it to absorb calcium. One of the easiest ways to get vitamin D is by spending 5-10 minutes in the sun a few times a week.
In short, fueling properly, adding strength exercises, and getting enough vitamin D are good ways to help protect your bones. Share your tips for keeping your bones healthy and strong in the comment section below!