It’s true, you should avoid becoming overweight. But on the other hand, being too thin can pose a risk to your health too. A new study found that thin women are at a higher risk for fractures as a result of running, and it could take them longer to recover.
As you age, there is an increased risk of losing weight and muscle because many seniors don’t eat as much as they used to and don’t exercise as often. But if you’re the type to exercise and are skinny as a result, you are at a higher risk of injury.
Thin women at higher risk for fractures while running
The researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reviewed data on a variety of injuries experienced by college level female runners. They discovered that females with a BMI of 19 or lower were more likely to experience stress fractures compared to women with higher BMIs.
Furthermore, these women took longer to recover from their injury—13 weeks of recovery for women with a BMI of 19 or more and 17 weeks for those with a BMI of 19 or lower.
Study co-author Dr. Timothy Miller explained, “We found that over time, we were able to identify the factors that put female runners at an increased risk of developing a stress fracture. One of the most important factors we identified was low body weight, or low body mass index.”
Although being lean is better than being overweight or obese, having lean muscle combined with a steady impact from running increases the risk of injury because bones are more vulnerable.
Miller added, “When body mass index is very low and muscle mass is depleted, there is nowhere for the shock of running to be absorbed other than directly into the bones. Until some muscle mass is developed and BMI is optimized, runners remain at increased risk of developing a stress fracture.”
The takeaway here is that females should work to maintain a healthy BMI—between 20 and 24. If you are older and are still regularly exercising, you may want to modify your exercise to something that causes less of an impact on bones. It’s also important that you maintain muscle mass, as muscle works to protect your bones further.
A healthy and balanced diet along with regular exercise will ward off obesity and ensure you maintain strong muscles.