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The summer months beckon with warm weather and longer days leading many people outdoors for recreation and exercise. A new study shows how postmenopausal women can make the most of the season by incorporating a natural osteoporosis treatment program into their outdoor fun.
Research published in the medical journal, Menopause, found that women who consistently performed pool exercises had increased strength and fewer falls. Linda Moreira, lead author of the study and researcher at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo, stated, “The study should encourage postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporotic bone-thinning that pool-based exercise can increase muscle and bone strength.”
Aquatic Exercises More Beneficial Than Supplementation Alone
The researchers recruited over 100 inactive women in their 50s and 60s. Approximately 25% of the women were diagnosed with osteoporosis and an additional 50% of participants were at the beginning stage of bone disease. The women were divided into two groups. All of the women took 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 and 500 mg of calcium daily. But, one group was assigned to an aquatic exercise program while the other group was not. The aquatic program included repetitions of intense activities at 10 to 30 second intervals.
At the end of the study, the aquatic exercisers suffered 44% less falls, maintained bone density scores, increased bone and muscle strength, and had significant improvement in their blood vitamin D levels. The non-exercise group showed mild increases in balance and strength, which were attributed to their supplement regimen. However, the non-exercise group lost about 1.2% of bone mineral density in their femur bones, even while taking their supplements.
Natural Osteoporosis Treatment Program Involves 3 Key Steps
The study shows that the best natural osteoporosis treatment plan is 3-fold:
- Exercise. First and foremost, the participants who showed the most bone health improvements were those who engaged in the aquatic exercise program versus those who were sedentary. This demonstrates yet again that exercise is a magic bullet for any natural osteoporosis treatment plan. And, when you perform outdoor pool exercises, it both benefits your health and provides fun summertime entertainment.
- Vitamin D3. All participants took vitamin D3; however, the exercise group noted more significant improvement in their blood vitamin D levels. Why? Vitamin D3 is unlike any other vitamin because it is a “pro-hormone” produced in the skin with sunlight exposure. Therefore, people who spend more time outdoors tend to have higher serum vitamin D levels. It makes sense, then, that the women in the study who spent more time in an outdoor pool had higher vitamin D levels. Furthermore, the participants in both groups were taking a relatively low dose of vitamin D3 at 1,000 IU daily. Since the majority of the U.S. population is vitamin D3 deficient, many people actually need between 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day and even up to as much as 10,000 IU. Find out exactly how much vitamin D3 your body requires here.
- Calcium. Everyone knows that calcium is needed for strong bones. However, what is not so commonly-known is that your body actually needs magnesium to adequately absorb calcium and to convert vitamin D into its active form for calcium absorption. Along with magnesium, the amino acid lysine aids in calcium absorption. This may be one reason why the non-exercise study participants (and many Americans) fail to achieve any benefit from calcium supplementation. While calcium is highly recommended for improved bone health, if not combined with the proper supportive nutrients, it is not adequately absorbed.
How Do Aquatic Workouts Work?
Performing exercise in water creates a resistance that weights on dry land do not provide. This is because the typical aquatic exercises work the muscle groups that are used for slower, day-to-day movements; strength in these muscles is needed to stimulate bone health. But as people age, they naturally lose this muscle strength.
How to Perform Pool Exercises
Here are a few quick tips to get you started on a summertime aquatic routine:
- Join a gym or check out your local YMCA to find aquatic exercise classes.
- Use the Mayo Clinic’s recommended aquatic exercises here.
- If you are swimming in a pool or lake without a lifeguard or aquatic trainer present, be sure to swim with a friend or family member. If you cannot swim, stay in the shallow water and don’t overexert yourself.
Natural Osteoporosis Treatment Options
For more natural osteoporosis treatment options including exercise tips, read these articles:
- Osteoporosis Exercises: A Proven Exercise Program Involving Strength Training for Building Bone Density
- Osteoporosis Guidelines for Postmenopausal Women
Originally published in 2013, this blog has been updated.