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Toned muscles equal stronger bones

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Updated: September 2, 2012 6:07AM



Q. My doctor says if I strengthen my muscles, I’ll strengthen my bones, too. Is that true, and will it cut my risk for osteoporosis?

A. A study funded by the National Institute of Health now confirms that increasing muscle mass makes the spongy insides and the hard outsides of bones stronger, and for women it is particularly effective in developing stronger, load-bearing bones, such as the hip, lumbar spine and thigh bone.

Every year around a quarter of a million women in North American suffer hip fractures; 15 to 20 percent never recover the health they had. To protect yourself, adopt a workout routine you can stick to.

Mix it up as you work it out. Exercise variety maximizes benefits and minimizes injuries and boredom.

A good warmup is key before muscle-building or aerobics, especially if you are working out in the morning, when you’re likely a bit stiffer. Then:

† Explore new equipment at the gym, and try innovative new combo classes: water workouts with swimming and strength training.

† Take up a new activity, such as racquetball or ballroom dancing. Learn to jump rope again.

† Add intervals — short bursts of increased intensity — to workouts when you can.

† When using weights, build intensity through reps. Do exercises that use both small and large muscle groups.

† Help your bones stay strong by getting enough calcium and vitamin D-3.

Q. Our pediatrician told me that using antimicrobial soaps and oversanitizing our house could give my 4-year-old son asthma later in life. Is he kidding?

A. As the use of home-cleaning products and soaps containing an antimicrobial chemical called triclosan has gone up in the past 40 years, reported cases of asthma have almost tripled. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins have found a significant association between children’s allergies and exposure to antimicrobial agents in toothpastes, soaps and cosmetics (there are more than 700 antimicrobial products on the market).

One other downside of our bug-killing spree (combined with antibiotic overuse): We’ve altered the balance of our intestinal bacteria that evolved over centuries to help protect our bodies.

The solution: Soap (without antibacterials) and water. It’s just as effective at killing bacteria as fancied up sterilizers, and unlike antimicrobials that may trigger antibiotic resistance, soap does its job and then the battle is over, until the next time you need to suds up your hands. So go easy on antibacterial products. Your son’s immune system will be stronger in the long run.

King Features Syndicate



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