Thursday, October 10, 2013

Osteoporosis Prevention: Start Early!

A main focus of the osteoporosis literature is treatment by various drugs which are targeted toward prevention of post-menopausal fractures.  However, a recent review by physicians at New York University Medical Center in the journal Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology stresses the view that "…no treatment is as effective as prevention."

The authors cite that by the age of 18, most women have 92 percent of their total bone mineral content, and by age 26, they have attained 99 percent.  This implies the importance of establishing behaviors, such as activity and nutrition that promote bone health early in life.  Take the following steps to prevent bone loss and promote bone strength:

1.      Exercise: Weight-bearing exercise is known to have a positive effect on bone strength. 
2.      Nutrition: Vitamin D and calcium intake is critical to for bone health.  An increase in the consumption of dairy products, as well as mushrooms and certain types of fish (including salmon, sardines and tuna) allow the body to maintain stronger bones.
3.      Lifestyle: Avoiding excessive alcohol intake (more than 3 drinks per day) and smoking can have a negative effect on bone maintenance.  Avoiding or reducing these behaviors will reduce the risk of bone density loss.

The bottom line is that many lifestyle choices before menopause can markedly reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life. 

Find the abstract here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How does a World-Class Female Triathlete Train?

Exercise tracking apps can allow us access to the training programs of our friends but it is quite rare to gain detailed insight into the workout schedule of a world-class athlete.  A recent article in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance provided such an account of the preparation of a women triathlete for the 2012 London Olympic Games. 

During the 50 weeks leading up to the games, this athlete completed 796 training sessions  about 16 per week comprising  303 swimming, 194 biking, 254 running and 45 strength training sessions. Typical weekly totals were 15.5 miles of swimming, 9 hours of cycling, and 5 hours of running.  The intensity of the training program was monitored and modulated based on heart rate, speed, and power output together with measurements of blood chemistry (particularly lactate).  In addition to training, the athlete completed 15 races - 8 of which were Olympic distance triathlons.  There is no mention of injuries during the year.  The athlete placed 7th in London 2012 and her world ranking improved from 14th to 8th at the end of 2012.

This glimpse into the life of an Olympic athlete shows what it takes to compete at the highest level.  Sustaining such a high-intensity program obviously requires years of background preparation together with a very unusual genome!

Read more here.