Wisdom Versus Fear Mongering And Osteoporosis Versus Body Pump


Body pump website

Is Body Pump too risky for those with osteoporosis (porous bones) or osteopenia (shortage of or thinning bones)? Depends, says FitOldDog. You get to do your own risk-benefit analysis. Don’t let fear ruin your life or lack of appropriate caution destroy it prematurely.

“Bone is a dynamic biological system capable of storing and dissipating considerable energy, and this remarkable tissue responds to loads induced by a range of forces, including those provided by the gravitational, inertial and electrical fields of planet earth and your body, with each boney component of your skeleton possessing it’s own unique physical characteristics, having been carefully sculpted for it’s individual function by eons of evolution.” quote made up by FitOldDog a couple of minutes ago.

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

I strongly recommend that you undertake a program of safe exercise (or investment) for better health, especially as you age, based on informed intelligence and wisdom, not as a knee jerk response to media hype or the so-called wisdom of the Health (Financial) Industry. You have to carry out your own personal risk-benefit analysis before you start and as you go.

Graph of Dow Jones Index on the day of writing this blog post during the Cyprus financial crisis.

Dow Jones index for today showing the noisy nature of the data.

There’s information, which you can turn into knowledge if you want to take the time to understand the context of the information. Then, based on such knowledge and personal experience, you might just transform that knowledge into wisdom, a rare but valuable human quality. Wish I had more of that wisdom stuff, but the first step towards wisdom is knowing in which areas of your life it is lacking. Take the Dow Jones Index for instance.

I was listening to National Public Radio today, which I consider to be pretty responsible most of the time. Then an announcer came on and made an interesting statement (which I will paraphrase as best I can). The statement is below in bold and red to emphasize the announcers barely controlled (acted, I suspect) underlying hysteria (OMG, 49 points):

One year Dow Jones Index up until the day of writing this blog post during the Cyprus financial crisis.

One year Dow Jones Index up until the day of writing this blog post during the Cyprus financial crisis. I don’t see a crisis in the index today, do you?

Due to the ongoing financial crisis in Cyprus, investors have been spooked and the Dow has dropped 49 points.”

You might think that something big happened to the Dow Jones Index (DJI), but look at the two graphs associated with this text. A gain or loss of 49 points in the DJI, which is sitting at a record high of over 14,000 points, is not a change, it is noise! This is an estimated value modification of approximately one third of one percent, and no one, absolutely no one, knows what it means. OK, the crisis in Cyprus is real, but the drop in the Dow isn’t. This I call fear mongering, and I hear it all the time on the news. I even heard a breathless, “The Dow has dropped 3 points” a few days ago. Made me laugh at the time, but many people listen and it affects their confidence in their retirement portfolio and frightens them to death, or at least gets their adrenals pumping for no good reason. Oh Boy! This is not unique to the Financial or News Industry.

Remember this: what happened to the Dow five minutes, five days or five years in the past, is not a reliable indicator of what it will do five minutes into the future. Invest with intelligence, not by pulling the lever on a Wall Street slot machine. If I were you, I’d go check some PE ratios, listen to people on the street (not Wall Street), and get ready to buy stocks when the next minicrash comes, because the market is too high (but then again, I wouldn’t listen to me, either!).

MRI images of thigh region to show effect of exercise on muscle mass.

MRI images of thigh region to show effect of exercise on muscle mass. These images say it all when it comes to the benefits of exercise as you age and effects on muscle and bone density.

But what about exercise for those with osteoporosis, a really interesting issue. In fact, if you have osteoporosis, Cyprus fades into insignificance, unless you live in Cyprus – what a mess those Mortgage Backed Securities and money laundering (did I get that right?) politics can cause.

I received an interesting comment on this blog the other day from Anita à propos fear mongering, osteoporosis and the Health Industry, which included the following statements (in italics not bolded):

“I don’t have many health issues to speak of, but I do have bone loss. I have managed to increase bone density after starting a rigorous workout routine.” …  “I think part of the reason that people our age stay away from vigorous exercise is fear instilled by the health-care industry.” [FitOldDog agrees, to some extent, and what about low-fat junk food] … “Check out this thread on Inspire, the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s blog, to see the fear mongers at work: http://www.inspire.com/groups/national-osteoporosis-foundation/discussion/body-pump-program-precautions/ You do have to register to view this, however.” [comment by FitOldDog: I think that most industries have good intentions, but they can be misdirected by financial, political and legal pressures – you have to take what works for you, such as my aortic stent graft, and reject what does not – see my blog post on Valium for further thoughts on personal responsibility when working with medical professionals and related industries – where would we be without them?].

AND further from Anita:

“These exercise recommendations affect millions of people. I wish we could put more science behind them.” [FitOldDog agrees, wholeheartedly]

The thread took me to an interesting and well-written article, which I did not consider to be fear mongering, it was just extremely, maybe overly, cautious in nature. Here are a couple of quotes:

From Susie Hathaway’s article entitled Body Pump Program Precautions, published on the National Osteoporosis Foundation Support Community website.

“With any weight lifting program, get guidance from your doctor or physical therapist on a weight limit for you, individually. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a limit of 10 pounds, that’s 5 pounds in each hand, for those with bone loss unless your doctor gives you the go ahead to lift more weight.”


“It is invaluable for those with osteoporosis to get individual guidance from a physical therapist experienced with bone loss. Discuss appropriate class options in your community with your PT. Doing progressive resistance training is possible, but it’s best to progress at an easy to moderate pace with professional guidance. Safe exercise, a good level of fitness, and remaining fracture free is the goal!”

Comment from FitOldDog: There was an interesting comment stream associated with the article, some grateful, some frustrated. My opinion is in line with this one, to which I added the emphasis:


“I’m glad I started kettlebell class and weight training before I found out I had osteoporosis. I engage in many of these risky moves with heavy weights. I have gained an incredible amount of strength, balance, and flexibility over the past six months. I’m not saying you are wrong, but I don’t think you can generalize for all people with osteoporosis. I feel better than I have in years.”

Great comment: Was she lucky not to break anything or lucky not to know she might? I prefer the latter!

I am sure no two cases of osteoporosis or osteopenia are the same. The article by Susie Hathaway is not fear mongering, but it is extremely cautious. We each have to make our own risk-benefit analyses based on our personal genetic background, bone density data and fracture history if we wish to benefit from an exercise program and not injure ourselves. If you take a look at the three MRIs in the image above you will see the remarkable advantages of exercise for both the muscular and skeletal systems, to which ‘wife2abadge’ refers.

Space program interested in osteoporosis.

The answer to exercise and osteoporosis maybe above your head, Anita, so just look up (carefully – just joking!). Click on image for link to article.

More research is needed, but until then you will each have to be your own guinea pig. You can’t just blindly expect the doctor or physical therapist to lead you by the nose as they are having to weigh all the risks and benefits to both you and themselves, including the risk of litigation, which is unfortunately very real.

I say start by perfecting your posture as best you can, then move to weight training combined with flexibility, balance and symmetry work. I would also attempt to obtain a personal bone density scan, and design my weight work accordingly. That is what I would do, and I couldn’t imagine I would achieve much with a 5-lb. weight once I got going with the program. At first, however, that is totally reasonable. When  an excellent PT was rehabilitating me after a serious shoulder dislocation, a 1 lb. weight felt like a ton, so I started with a few ounces. Prior to the running accident that caused this I could bench press two 80 lb dumbbells without too much trouble. It all depends on your current situation, and I mean now.

FitOldDog's Feldenkrais instructor, Karen, and Mr. Bones, a key contributor to FitOldDog's education.

FitOldDog’s Feldenkrais instructor, Karen, and Mr. Bones, a key contributor to FitOldDog’s education.

So, if I had a case of bone thinning and I didn’t have my veterinary pathology training, in addition to what I say above, rather than just trusting my doctor or PT, I would go research the Biology of bone, even studying some directly in the butcher’s shop, learn what is known about osteoporosis and osteopenia, track down any genetic (e.g. frequent fractures) family history, and I’d build a mental picture of my situation – that is information being turned into knowledge. Then I’d do things (e.g. ride a bike) and use what you learn (e.g. stress fractures) to develop a level of wisdom about my situation in order to make the best choices that I can for a happy life.

Finally, would you compete in Ironman races at age 70 with an abdominal aortic aneurysm stent graft, as I do? Most would say, “No Way!” But no one can provide me with useful advice on this matter, so I do it anyway because I choose to do so based on the best information that I can find and my own interpretation of my situation and what I enjoy. This is a risk-benefit calculation.

One man or woman’s fear mongering is another’s wise caution. It’s your life, so you get to choose. By the way, the first four body pump videos (those I watched, which are linked to the lead figure of this post) presented excellent demonstrations of good form in the weight room, a place I love to go.

Thanks for drawing my attention to this issue, Anita, and have fun with whatever you decide to do – life is much too brief to do otherwise. If your risk-benefit analysis says yes to Body Pump, kick ass in the gym.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. The new header looks great, Kevin. Cheers!

  2. Deb hates it! -k (Kdog, sorry)

  3. I really like it too.

  4. Can’t please everyone, which I guess is in the nature of marketing. Deb doesn’t like my have a glass of beer in the picture, but I see it (though non-Paleo) as showing that I know how to relax as well as focus. I did climb 6,500 feet up Mount Lemmon in Tucson AZ before having this beer at the end of a grueling 5-day triathlon training camp with a group of people half my age. A beer well-earned, I say. OK! Time for the track!

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.