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Old 12-23-17, 06:53 PM   #1
Honusms
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Ladies - Changes to riding r/t osteoporosis?

So Im a skinny white female with a Medicare card (means over 65 for those not in the US). Were at risk for osteoporosis and, in fact, I was diagnosed a few years ago. Cant do high impact aerobics because I break bones in my feet. I dutifully hit the resistance training machines and weights at the gym and take the recommended dietary and medication measures.

But now I definitely have a fear of falling/crashing. I ditched my clipless pedals and slick shoes. Im definitely more cautious on the streets with my omafiets and stick to well-groomed municipal paths with my road bike.

Are there any other ladies on this forum with similar issues? How has your cycling changed?
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Old 12-23-17, 07:49 PM   #2
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I am a 50-yr old female long distance cyclist and have known for years that I am at risk of osteoporosis because of the long distance cycling. Evidently it saps calcium and since it is non-impact, it does nothing for bone density.

So I started walking. I cover a minimum of 1000 km/year of walking in addition to my cycling. And quite a lot of that has been walking while carrying a heavy backpack going to university and elsewhere.

Walking is an impact exercise and is supposed to help build bone density.

I also do some weight lifting and have recently started running.

But my cycling hasn't changed ... it did ease off a few years ago for various reason (DVT, travel) but I've been building up the distance and quantity again.
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Old 12-25-17, 06:55 PM   #3
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If falling is forbidden, and virtually everyone who rides bikes falls eventually, then you're a candidate for a trike.
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Old 12-26-17, 10:40 AM   #4
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I'm not a lady but I'm definitely a card carrying old guy. I pay more attention to the loss of muscle mass and as a consequence, do some weight training and some walking. Every year I get a bit more asthmatic and less able to do what I do. Nevertheless, I will do as much as I can as long as I can.
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Old 12-26-17, 10:49 AM   #5
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It should be noted that gentlemen who have undergone certain treatments for prostate cancer also are at risk for osteoporosis.
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Old 12-28-17, 06:10 PM   #6
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My wife has osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis); her mother has full-on osteoporosis and significant kyphosis as a result. My wife has become much more cautious in her riding and we've incorporated walking into our exercise routine to get some weight-bearing effort to slow or prevent further bone loss.
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Old 12-28-17, 11:04 PM   #7
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I am a 60 year female cyclist. I trained hard for Ride the Rockies 2 years ago but I don't ride in the road too often. I mostly ride trails now. I will probably go down to Florida in March and may ride out in Colorado again this year. What I have changed considerable is my dance roller skating. I had rotator cuff surgery on Nov. 6th. It was mainly wear and tear---using hiking poles for 10 mile trail walks really did a number on my shoulder after swimming a couple of years ago. I don't do one-footed turns or fast dances that are complicated. I tore a hamstring after falling while doing a "splits" dance move and fell on the hamstring while it was stretched out. So... my skating has changed, my recklessness in mountain bike has slowed, and my downhill skiing has changed to non-existent. But, I do still cycle. I am cautious about sand, and downhills. I no longer bike in the snow. I don't worry about falls, but I am not a dare-devil any more. I use brakes on mountain downhills and let some people pass me on the way down.
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Old 12-29-17, 04:13 AM   #8
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I saw on the news the other night a research said eating calcium pills did not stem the bone loss. I guess it's good old fashion exercise then.

My theory is that the bone is a living tissue and it responds to stresses. Perhaps jumping or skipping a rope is beneficial? I've read Joe Friel's book 'cycling past 50' which confirms that cyclist do lose calcium and that walking may not be enough. He recommends weigh lifting and tennis. And also cited an example where researchers found sheeps strengthened their bones standing on a vibrating platform !
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Old 12-29-17, 05:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Machoman121 View Post
I saw on the news the other night a research said eating calcium pills did not stem the bone loss. I guess it's good old fashion exercise then.

My theory is that the bone is a living tissue and it responds to stresses. Perhaps jumping or skipping a rope is beneficial? I've read Joe Friel's book 'cycling past 50' which confirms that cyclist do lose calcium and that walking may not be enough. He recommends weigh lifting and tennis. And also cited an example where researchers found sheeps strengthened their bones standing on a vibrating platform !
Had never heard of this vibration study so I did a bit Googling, interesting. Thanks.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...8/#!po=17.5000
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Old 12-29-17, 01:13 PM   #10
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Read these articles:
https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/f...ght-training#1
and
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rache...b_1030402.html

And then engage the services of a trainer at your gym. As you have now read, weight training can reverse osteoporosis in pre and postmenopausal women. One has to move fairly heavy weights to affect bone strength, which will involve first increasing muscle and soft tissue strengths, hence the trainer suggestion. Easy to injure yourself when starting out.

Bicycling puts one at greater risk of osteoporosis, not less.
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Old 12-31-17, 08:38 PM   #11
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Read these articles:
https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/f...ght-training#1
and
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rache...b_1030402.html

And then engage the services of a trainer at your gym. As you have now read, weight training can reverse osteoporosis in pre and postmenopausal women. One has to move fairly heavy weights to affect bone strength, which will involve first increasing muscle and soft tissue strengths, hence the trainer suggestion. Easy to injure yourself when starting out.

Bicycling puts one at greater risk of osteoporosis, not less.
I'm not so sure about that. Cycling can be much like weight training in practice if one chooses to make it so. Sure, sitting on a saddle like a sack of potatoes and rolling along the flats won't get it done, but who does that?

Last I heard, the vibration hypothesis wasn't finding much support, but if it is a factor then all that chip-seal might be giving us something besides irritated hands.

Just an anecdote, but the last time I had an X-ray I was in my forties and hadn't done anything specific for exercise other than cycling in over a decade, but I did a lot of cycling. The orthopedic surgeon who read the X-ray was the team physician for the Sacramento Kings, so he's seen some dense bones. However, he called in the entire department to look at the densest bones he had ever seen. If it's genetic, my sister got shorted since she started having bone density issues in her early forties. (She favored running marathons instead of cycling.)
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Old 01-01-18, 03:11 AM   #12
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I'm not so sure about that. Cycling can be much like weight training in practice if one chooses to make it so. Sure, sitting on a saddle like a sack of potatoes and rolling along the flats won't get it done, but who does that?

Last I heard, the vibration hypothesis wasn't finding much support, but if it is a factor then all that chip-seal might be giving us something besides irritated hands.

Just an anecdote, but the last time I had an X-ray I was in my forties and hadn't done anything specific for exercise other than cycling in over a decade, but I did a lot of cycling. The orthopedic surgeon who read the X-ray was the team physician for the Sacramento Kings, so he's seen some dense bones. However, he called in the entire department to look at the densest bones he had ever seen. If it's genetic, my sister got shorted since she started having bone density issues in her early forties. (She favored running marathons instead of cycling.)
Then you're and outlier:
https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/w...an-improve-it/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19127198/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18191053/

Basically, the more you ride and the harder you ride, the greater the risk.
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Old 01-02-18, 01:25 AM   #13
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Then you're and outlier:
https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/w...an-improve-it/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19127198/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18191053/

Basically, the more you ride and the harder you ride, the greater the risk.
The last two studies suffer from selection bias. People with bone or joint issues of the sort that occur with low bone density, who wish to be active will be much more likely to choose and stick with activities that don't exacerbate their problem, like swimming and cycling. I'm not saying cycling cannot be a factor in low bone density, just that those studies are unconvincing.
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Old 01-02-18, 04:03 AM   #14
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18191053
Abstract
The effects of regular non-weight-bearing (NWB) exercise on bone health are largely unknown. The objective of the study was to determine the effects of participation in NWB sports on bone health in adult male recreational athletes. Male cyclists (NWB; n = 27) and runners (weight-bearing [WB]; n = 16) aged 20 to 59 years were recruited from the community. Whole-body and regional bone mineral content and bone mineral density (BMD), and body composition were assessed using dual x-ray absorptiometry. Bone formation and resorption markers, and hormones were measured in serum. Bone-loading history was estimated from a sports participation history questionnaire. Nutrient intake and current physical activity were estimated from 7-day written logs. The NWB athletes had significantly lower BMD of the whole body and spine than the WB athletes, despite having similar age, weight, body mass index, body composition, hormonal status, current activity level, and nutrient intakes. Sixty-three percent of NWB athletes had osteopenia of the spine or hip, compared with 19% of WB athletes. Cyclists were 7 times more likely to have osteopenia of the spine than runners, controlling for age, body weight, and bone-loading history. There were no group differences in serum markers of bone turnover. Based on the results of this study, current bone loading is an important determinant of whole-body and lumbar spine BMD. Therefore, bone-loading activity should be sustained during adulthood to maintain bone mass.

Which explains why the collar bone snaps so easily in a cyclist?
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Old 01-02-18, 07:15 AM   #15
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The last two studies suffer from selection bias. People with bone or joint issues of the sort that occur with low bone density, who wish to be active will be much more likely to choose and stick with activities that don't exacerbate their problem, like swimming and cycling. I'm not saying cycling cannot be a factor in low bone density, just that those studies are unconvincing.
It's not necessary that you be convinced. I have a female cyclist friend, about 60 y.o., who has broken 2 major bones in the past 2 years, in ordinary falls. She's convinced. My wife and I have fallen, many times. I still ski hard and fall. Never a break. But besides riding, we've been lifting for many years and eat a lot of dairy.
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Old 01-07-18, 01:24 PM   #16
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Get a dog and walk it 3 times a day. Good for you and the dog. Wear a backpack with some stuff in it for weight.
Switch over to folding bikes, either 20" or 16" wheels (Bike Friday highly recommended). It's damn near impossible to fall over on a 16" wheeled bike, lol. Or, consider a recumbent if you don't mind them. But a regular bike does more to help you retain your sense of balance than a recumbent or trike.
Get a balance pad or half ball and practice standing and balancing.
Maybe take a martial arts class where you can learn how to fall safely.
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Old 01-08-18, 01:07 PM   #17
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This is a tough and biologically unfair issue for women as they age. A couple of women friends -- one 40, the other in her 50s (although she looks closer to 40) -- both experienced broken collarbones and arms in falls this year. Pretty much the same kinds of falls that I've had at age 60 but just got bruises and strains; and some of my younger women friends in their 20s-30s bounced back from similar falls.

At 79 my mom has severe osteoporosis, much worse than we'd realized. Her femur snapped just walking in the kitchen in early December. She got a glass of water to take her nighttime meds, turned to take a step... snap. Just above the knee. Same knee she'd had two repairs done: one in her 20s, back in the 1960s when she began developing arthritis; the second about 12 or so years ago with a newer replacement joint.

Mom is still in rehab and probably has weeks to go before she can think about going home, and even then it may not be feasible. She's also struggling with moderate dementia that seemed to rapidly worsen after her recent surgery. Her neurologist and geriatric docs say that's due in part to her inactivity. She has low hemoglobin. She doesn't get her blood flowing to the brain.

In contrast, a 75 year old friend has had knee and hip replacement surgeries the past three years and she rebounded remarkably quickly. She was released from an inpatient rehab center within a week. The main difference? Possibly genetics. But my 75 year old friend has always been much more active. She walks, putters around her house and garden, plays tennis a couple of times a week, did moderate weight lifting, and still taught full time at two colleges until she was around 73 years old.

My mom tended to be a couch potato, rarely moving. For her, a lot of effort was walking to the apartment complex mailbox, about a 200 yard round trip. And those trips decreased from every day to every other day and eventually to maybe once a week. She didn't putter.

Besides weaker bones my mom is weaker overall. While in rehab she complains constantly when I visit. She thinks the nurses and aides are abusive. I've watched them carefully. They aren't abusive. They're firm, efficient, maybe a bit bossy, but not at all unkind. They have a lot of patients to tend to. Mom's problem is that years of indolence made her so weak she barely has the strength to turn herself in bed to avoid bedsores. So the nurses and aides have to roll her side to side often to check for pressure and bed sores. Mom seems to think this is "abuse". But she's just not accustomed to any kind of physical activity and now it's become a serious issue.

Sure, there might have been some genetic differences between my mom and older friend. But activity is a major factor.

Stay active. Putter. Walk. Do simple, basic exercises that don't require any apparatus -- pushups, squats, lunges, etc. Lift moderate weights using whatever you already have at home.

Even canned goods are handy for modest weight lifting. My neck and shoulders ache constantly from a 2001 car wreck that broke my back and neck in six places, and permanently damaged my C2. I use 16-24 oz cans of pasta sauce as moderate weights to strengthen my shoulders and arms, doing up to 200 reps in all directions. It helps.

If I was a woman I'd be seriously considering a recumbent. Heck, I may need to switch to one eventually anyway due to recurring pain from that old neck injury. I wouldn't feel comfortable riding one in traffic, but fortunately there are plenty of places nearby to ride one safely on roads with little or no vehicle traffic.
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