Cancer Tips

Benefits of barre workouts for bones

Strong bones are a must for all of us. Unfortunately, cancer survivors face treatment side effects that can affect bone density and strength. Thankfully, there are things to do to help your bones, including weight bearing activities. There are many benefits of barre workouts for bones. Keep reading to learn why you should add barre workouts to your activity list.

Another cancer side effect – bone density loss

Two years ago, I decided to have my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed since the breast cancer diagnosis in 2019 was hormone estrogen positive (meaning estrogen is not my friend). This put me in immediate surgical menopause, which can cause all sorts of issues in the female body, including bone density loss [Read my ‘Tips to manage menopause’ post]. A bone density test showed that my body quickly slid into osteoporosis due to the immediate loss of estrogen and the daily medication I take to suppress estrogen. Unfortunately I’ll be on this medication for another 3-5 years so we needed to focus on helping my bones.

I decided to tackle surgical menopause like I have faced three cancers – informed, head on, with grace and determination, and like a boss.

That meant asking lots of questions of my doctors (endocrinologist, gynecologist, oncologist, etc.), doing a bit of my own research (stay with reputable sources!), talking to other female cancer survivors and listening to my body. This last one is important – our bodies so often tell us what we need. And we often don’t listen.

Listening to what my body needed for strong bones

I admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of taking more medications. But my body required some additional assistance to build strong bones. As a bone cancer survivor whose left leg is made up mostly of titanium supported by my remaining bone, strong bones are essential to me being able to walk. I trusted my endocrinologist to know the best medication for me. We selected a year of monthly Evenity shots. After that, she explained that we needed something to help secure the benefits of Evenity so I had an infusion of Reclast in February. A few weeks ago I had a bone density test to see if these medications worked.

And WOW did they work! My body responded like a boss – the test showed NO signs of osteoporosis! In fact, my bones showed 10-20% improvement in almost all areas. My femur and forearm went from osteopenia to NORMAL. I was shocked. My doctor described the results as ‘positively stunning’ (in a good way!). And this awesome news led to even better news – she’s so comfortable with the improvement that we’re postponing additional doses of Reclast until my next bone density test in TWO years.

I admittedly cried at the good news. Tears of joy and relief. It’s been a tough year with ongoing side effects from breast cancer treatment so I needed this good news. My body needed it.

Working hard for good results

But also impactful during my doctor visit was when she patted my shoulder and said how proud she is of me for putting in a lot of hard work to help my body. She pointed out that while the drugs definitely supported my body, my determination and commitment to doing what my body needs through a healthy lifestyle and being active also had great impact on the results. That praise made me feel good.

And she’s right. I have recommitted to listening to my body. When I got the osteoporosis news, I decided to evaluate the activities that I participated in and switched up my routine. As much as I love cycling, it’s sadly not a weight-bearing exercise. I knew that I had to make time for other activities that would benefit my bones [Click for more tips to strengthen your bones]. In addition to hiking, yoga, walking and some weight lifting, I added barre workouts to my routine. And let me tell you – I LOVE barre workouts!

My bones like being at the barre

Barre is a low impact exercise that combines ballet-inspired moves, yoga, aerobics and pilates. It can be done with light weights and exercise bands, or with nothing. Exercises are done with a ‘barre’ support and also on the floor. You don’t need a ballet barre to do the exercises – a chair, counter, wall or other waist-high surface will work.

After months of doing regular barre workouts, I noticed a difference in my body’s strength, balance, leanness and endurance (and weight loss, even though I didn’t intend for that benefit). And I feel really good!

Benefits of barre workouts for bones

The low impact workout is for every body type. While you can progress to using light weights, bands and other props, you can still get a great workout with just your own body weight resistance. There are also modifications to moves and the low impact of the exercises are more gentle on your body. Being able to get a great workout even when I need to modify moves to support my leg quickly made this a favorite workout of mine.

Being flexible helps your joints’ range of motion. Stretching is a big part of barre workouts. Improved flexibility, especially in the hip area, can help with joint stiffness. I also notice better posture, which helps relieve pressure on the spine area.

Your core muscles are working throughout the workout! It’s a subtle but constant burn of the core muscles, whether consciously tightening the muscles or they’re getting worked through various exercises. Strong core muscles improve your stability, spinal support and leanness.

Another reason that I love barre workouts is that you can do it at a studio, home, hotel, anywhere! Being a versatile exercise has made it easy to stick with.

All of these benefits help your overall health and also decrease your fall risk, which is super important when facing osteoporosis (and no one wants to fall regardless of osteoporosis, right?!).

Have you been to the barre?

So now you know some benefits of barre workouts for bones. Have you tried barre workouts? If so, I’d love to know what you think. If not, do you think you’ll try this workout? Share in the comments below!

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