Whether you're an athlete, into biking or other recreation, or simply a couch potato, it's a good idea to think about whether your daily habits are good for your bones. Bone density has become a serious issue for our times. Just ask anyone who has had to deal with the high costs and lengthy procedures of a hip operation. The bone condition known as osteoporosis can result in some disabling and severe health problems later in life. Though many used to think that osteoporosis was a “woman’s disease” we now know that both women and men are vulnerable to loss of bone density. Some conditions, like a chronic high intake of sugary sodas, leach calcium from the bone and leave more potential for bone density loss.
Cycling and Osteoporosis
With all of the discussion around bone density, fitness enthusiasts are wondering if their favorite activities are helping them to prevent osteoporosis. Cyclists are a loyal bunch, and many are asking whether spinning and biking are activities that can delay or prevent weakening bones. However, the answer to this question is a little more complex than many would suspect.
Cycling Pros: Moderate Biking
Just like a range of other activities, cycling is an exercise where the body exerts itself against resistance. This does help to strengthen and build lower body bones, joints and muscles. That means that moderate biking has a good chance of strengthening bones.
Cycling Cons: High Volume Biking
Unfortunately, for those who are true bicycle addicts, some doctors have recently claimed that an extremely high volume of biking, without other resistance activities and a diet rich in calcium, could actually affect the bones negatively, and would not generally protect the individual from osteoporosis.
Part of the reason is because of the calcium lost from the body during exertion. This would seem to only be a problem for those who train very hard, for instance, for long-distance cycling events. Also, the verdict on cycling is far from unanimous; doctors disagree on how much cycling can raise or lower a person’s vulnerability to bone weakness. They have generally reached a consensus on one thing: diet. The best thing you can do to keep bones strong, say nutritional experts, is to choose dairy products, fresh vegetables, fruits and other foods with vitamin D and calcium, and stay away from sodas.
Above and beyond the debate over the effects of cycling on the bones, biking enthusiasts should not stop biking because of fears of osteoporosis. Cycling provides many other health benefits, from increased heart and lung capacity to muscle toning and exposure to the great outdoors. One good rule of thumb for those who are worried about osteoporosis is to supplement cycling with other full body weight lifting exercises that will give individuals a better chance of strengthening all of their bones through resistance based training, not just a cardio routine.