A few weeks ago my family was watching a PBS special about astronauts and the challenges they face in space travel and I was struck by an alarming statistic (which I'll get to in a minute). I wish I could find a link to the episode but I haven't been able to find it yet- sorry.
Anyway, one of the astronauts' challenges is living in a zero-gravity environment and the effect it has on their bone density. Humans need weight-bearing exercise to maintain bone density and the zero-gravity environment of space makes it impossible to lift weights of any sort. An astronaut doesn't even work against gravity when he space-walks or raises his arm overhead. You might be thinking... well, duh! But stay with me here... do you know how much bone density an astronaut loses over 6 months in a zero-gravity environment (despite "exercising" for 2 hours each day)? 14%. Yikes! How does he manage to walk off of the shuttle after it lands back on earth without crumbling to the ground? When I hear this statistic I pictured his bones riddled with holes, like Swiss cheese. One false step and he's got a broken hip... without a doubt an exaggeration but that is what I picture in my head.
14%- that is huge! So how important is weight-bearing exercise to maintaining healthy bone mass? So important!!! According to the Merck Manual, as women, our bone density peaks around age 30 and then it is an uphill battle to maintain it from then on. Eventual menopause only fuels the fire and thus begins the slippery slope to being frail little old ladies.
So how can we fight against bone loss and be strong moms? Make sure you are taking in adequate calcium and Vitamin D and incorporate weight-bearing exercise into your exercise routine. Join us at Stroller Strides for a full body workout that includes plenty of weight-bearing exercise and stay strong and fit for motherhood and all that lies ahead!