07 April 2003

Jogging helps men bulk up bones

Men, give your bones a run for their money. Jogging not only improves the density of your bones, but it helps keep you from breaking your hip down the road, a recent study says.

Men, give your bones a run for their money. Jogging not only improves the density of your bones, but it helps keep you from breaking your hip down the road, a recent study says.

Only don't go too far. The study also found that if a man jogs at least 20 times a month, his bone density is no better than those who jogged less frequently. That may mean that there's a limit to the effects of jogging on bone density.

Although most of those who have osteoporosis - a dangerous thinning of the bones - are women, many men are also affected. The disease, which has no symptoms, is marked by loss of bone mass and increased risk of spine, wrist and hip fractures.

"Most of the previous research on bone mineral density (BMD) focused on women," says Michael Mussolino, the study's lead author, a researcher with the American National Centre for Health Statistics, which is part of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research study
Bone mineral density of the femur, or thighbone, was compared in the study of those who jogged and those who didn't. Researchers found that the mean BMD was 5 percent higher among joggers than among non-joggers. The study didn't report how many miles the joggers covered.

There was also a significant difference between those who jogged fewer than eight times a month and those who jogged at least nine times a month, says Mussolino. But even those who jogged less had a higher BMD than non-joggers, he adds, which suggests "even infrequent jogging may be beneficial."

Men need to be concerned
Dr Carlos Isales, an endocrinologist at the Medical College of Georgia, says men need to be concerned about osteoporosis. "Seven to 13 million men are at risk," he notes. "But, since men have higher peak bone mass, and start at a higher point, it takes them longer to reach the levels where the fractures occur."

Men reach their peak bone mass at about age 25, then gradually lose bone density as they age, says Isales.

So it's never too early to take preventive measures. "Things like nutrition impact bone density. We tend to eat diets low in calcium and nutrients, and it takes its toll, " Isales says.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Public Health.

What to do
"We realise not everyone's skeleton is right for jogging," says Mussolino. Bad backs and bad knees may not make it the sport of choice. But, he adds, any "weight-bearing exercise where the hip area is directly loaded" is good.

Isales agrees. "Lifestyles and common sense changes are important." If you're a smoker, quit. Make sure you eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise. And, if jogging's not for you, try "walking one hour a day, five days a week." - (HealthScout News)




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