Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, builds bone and protects against osteoporosis and frailty later in life. Unfortunately, only bone under stress seems to benefit. For example, runners, who carry their own body weight, tend to have stronger leg bones than cyclists. Crossfit provides excellent training for bone strength. It includes weighted movements that target, stress and should strengthen most of the bones in the human body. That is provided you don’t over train and damage them or have an accident (see post on the risks and benefits of box jumps.)
Exercise may help protect against tooth loss or weakness.
One area that weight lifting and most forms of exercise will not target are the bones that make up our jaws (although some do manage to make an exception here. Look around and check facial expressions during heavy lifts). It is important that these bones stay healthy. If they degrade they will not be able to hold onto your teeth. Unfortunately, there has been very little research on exercise and tooth loss. The only study found in a literature search of Web Of Knowledge saw less tooth loss among older Japanese men who exercised daily (Yoshida et al. 2001.) This doesn’t quite tell us enough, because of other variables that are also associated with more or less tooth loss such as hygiene, frequency of professional care, dietary habits and smoking.
Is chewing gum good exercise for the bones supporting teeth?
Chewing gum may strengthen jaw bones and could protect chewers from tooth loss or improve the outcome of periodontal disease. A research team in Russia studied the effect of chewing gum on bone density in 93 periodontal patients (Loginova et al. 2006.) Bone density increased on the active chewing side. For optimal effect make sure to switch your gum from right to left periodically. Goes for the rest of your training too. The full paper is available in Russian.Yoshida Y, Hatanaka Y, Imaki M, Ogawa Y, Miyatani S, & Tanada S (2001). Epidemiological study on improving the QOL and oral conditions of the aged–Part 2: Relationship between tooth loss and lifestyle factors for adults men. Journal of physiological anthropology and applied human science, 20 (6), 369-73 PMID: 11840690Loginova NK, Veĭsgeĭm LD, & Churina SV (2006). [Influence of course use of chewing gum on alveolar bone density]. Stomatologiia, 85 (2), 22-4 PMID: 16710273
Current recommended protein intake for people over the age of 19 is 0.8 g/kg/day. A lot of strength trainers and CrossFit trainers will recommend a lot more. CrossFit Masters may need more protein than younger athletes. Masters CrossFit and older people may need more protein whether they are working out or not. The muscles of Masters Athletes are less responsive to strength training. We can define Masters as over 35, 40 or 50. But at what age, physiologically, does a need for greater protein intake occur? Some sources state loss of muscle mass begins around age 25. While others say it begins much later.
Masters CrossFit. How much Protein?
Some researchers believe that increasing protein intake may help older athletes. As well as older people in general. Spreading intake out over the course of the day may also help anabolic response to training. Increasing protein intake may help with other things too. Increasing protein intake increases calcium absorption. So increasing protein intake may help with bone health. We have probably all heard that calcium is needed to prevent osteoporosis. And that strength training also prevents osteoporosis. Some researchers are proposing that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Masters be increased from 0.8 g/kg/day to 1.0 to 1.2 g/kg/day. For better calcium and nitrogen balance. This is still under what is recommended by many for strength training. Sports nutritionists recommend 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg/day for athletes.
Strength training and increased protein to prevent muscle loss.
Loss of muscle mass begins around age 25. But exercise is protective. For Masters and for young athletes. The question is open over whether or not Masters athletes need more protein than other athletes. Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) is thought to affect about 1/3rd of people over age 60. It is a problem affecting many people. So far the best treatment is strength training and exercise.
How to track protein intake.
Try SuperTracker and keep track of what you eat over a week. It is a USDA government website that will tell you how much protein (more or less) you are getting from a wide range of foods. It will also give you a detailed report of many different nutrients and tell you where you are deficient. You may be surprised at where your weaknesses are.
Gaffney-Stomberg E, Insogna KL, Rodriguez NR, & Kerstetter JE (2009). Increasing dietary protein requirements in elderly people for optimal muscle and bone health. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57 (6), 1073-9 PMID: 19460090
Sumukadas, D. (2010). Optimal management of sarcopenia Clinical Interventions in Aging DOI: 10.2147/CIA.S11473 Sayer AA, Robinson SM, Patel HP, Shavlakadze T, Cooper C, & Grounds MD (2013). New horizons in the pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of sarcopenia. Age and ageing, 42 (2), 145-50 PMID: 23315797
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