What does your brain have to do with your bones — besides being encased in some? Very simply: Stress and depression sap your bone strength.
Bones and the Blues
Depression seems to pose as great a risk to your bones as smoking or lack of exercise, especially in women, and even before menopause. In fact, depressed women may never reach peak bone-mass levels, meaning that they go into midlife at a disadvantage. Women who are battling the blues also produce more cortisol — the so-called stress hormone — which also weakens bones.
If you’re a woman who is at risk for bone loss and you also take an antidepressant — especially a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as Prozac or Paxil — ask your doctor about recent research suggesting the medication may make bone loss worse. These drugs seem to inhibit bone mass formation, so you may need to take extra supplements to offset the effects of the drugs.
Lifting Weights: A Win-Win
The good news: Regular exercise boosts your mood as well as builds bone. And high-intensity resistance training — activities like lifting weights, resistance-band workouts and pushing wheelbarrows full of dirt around the garden — is particularly good at both improving bone density and reducing symptoms of depression. In research studies, iron-pumping older adults report that they enjoy life more, are happier and socialize more.
Well, there you go: 30 minutes with the dumbbells, three times a week, and you not only get a better mood and stronger bones, you’re also ready to party.