Tips to strengthen your bones
One of several side effects that I’m facing after breast cancer treatment is osteoporosis. It unfortunately developed from the post-treatment plan to minimize my recurrence risk. So I’ve been focusing on many strategies to combat osteoporosis and wanted to share tips to strengthen your bones.
Cancer treatment’s impact on bone strength
Unfortunately, many drugs and side effects from cancer treatment can cause a loss of bone density, no matter how much exercise you do. Like in my case.
My breast cancer diagnosis was labeled as hormone receptor positive, meaning estrogen hormones naturally occurring in a female body are not my friend. To help ensure that cancer never returns – I’m SO DONE with cancer, universe! Make sure you hear that LOUD AND CLEAR! Sorry, I digress – my care plan includes removing these hormones from my body as much as possible.
After I finished chemo and radiation three years ago, I started a monthly shot to suppress my ovary function. I finally decided to have my ovaries removed last year to stop the shot. I also take a daily pill to suppress estrogen hormones. Most likely, I’ll continue this pill for anther 3-5 years.
The fantastic news is that these actions, combined with chemo and radiation, lower my recurrence risk to almost 0%! The downside is that our bodies typically need estrogen hormones for strong bones and other things. To be frank, being pushed into surgical menopause hasn’t been fun for my body. Rather than allowing my body to naturally ‘slide into’ menopause, it’s basically been pushed off a cliff with no reaction time.
Several side effects popped up in the past year, with osteoporosis being one of the most serious. My situation is also “unique” (as my doctors kindly call it rather than complicated) because as a bone cancer survivor, my left leg is held together with a titanium rod going into what’s left of my femur and tibia. So my bones must remain strong to keep my leg. Ugh, so yes, you can see why this has been an emotional journey.
It’s, admittedly, been frustrating and a bit of downer since I’ve worked so hard to keep my body strong. However, my docs have stepped up with a plan. I am currently getting a monthly bone building drug that hopefully is making my bones regenerate and grow stronger. I also have stepped up supplements and weight bearing exercises.
Bone strengthening at any age
On a side note: If you’re reading this, thinking that you don’t have to be aware of your bone strength because you’re young or never been through cancer treatment, please do pay attention to it. Both females AND males have typically reached their peak bone density by their late 20s!
All women are at risk for osteoporosis as we age and go into menopause. And men are at a high risk of bone density loss over age 60. The more bone strengthening activities that you can do at a younger age can be very helpful! So keep reading to learn about some great tips to strengthen your bones.
A heads up too: as much as I LOVE cycling, it’s not a weight bearing exercise. It’s great for cardio and my mental peace of mind so still valuable. However, I know it’s important for me to switch up activities. And, thankfully I enjoy a lot of other activities that keep my body healthy.
There are two types of exercises that help build and maintain bone density:
1. Weight bearing exercises
Weight bearing exercises include those that involve doing aerobic exercises on your feet. These exercises trigger the addition of new material to your bones when the working muscles put stress on the bones to resist the pull of gravity, thus creating bone growth. Great examples of weight bearing exercises for bone strength include:
- Zumba/dance exercise
- Barre classes
- Jumping rope
- Stair climbing
2. Muscle strengthening exercises
Muscle strengthening exercises focus on building your muscles. This can be especially important for back muscles that support your back bone (a common spot for osteoporosis to develop). Examples of strengthening exercises include:
- Lifting weights
- Weight machines
- Resistance bands
- Your own body weight
Remember that strength and flexibility exercises are important to help balance and muscle flexibility.
These tips to strengthen your bones will hopefully get you motivated! You can also talk to your doctor about additional natural ways, like food, supplements and more.
Please remember to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise plan, especially if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. I’m not a clinician, simply sharing what I’ve learned. 🙂