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Stronger by the day
Woman turns to exercise after early
Because calcium contributes to stronger bones, Fitterer incorporated calcium supplements and more calcium into her diet. She has always been health-conscious, but she said her calcium intake went from sporadic to a daily commitment.
Sanford Health's Melanie Carvell (left) helps Cazanne Fitterer during a recent workout. Fitterer has used bone-strengthening activities like weight-lifting to overcome osteoporosis.
||Cazanne Fitterer was only 37 when she was
diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disease that
results in broken bones and most commonly affects
The Bismarck mother of three began a nutrition
and fitness regimen to strengthen her bones and
actually reversed her diagnosis.
“In May, I had my annual Dexa scan (bone
density test) and it showed my bones are normal
now,” Fitterer said. “Initially, my doctor was going
to put me on medication. But I didn’t want to be on
meds the rest of my life at my age. I am so glad I
made the lifestyle commitment that I did.”
Fitterer credits Sanford Women’s Health
Center for helping her turn around her diagnosis.
A runner and longtime WHC member, Fitterer
turned to WHC Director Melanie Carvell for
assistance following the osteoporosis diagnosis.
Carvell, a physical therapist, worked with Fitterer
to develop a program that emphasized bonestrengthening
activities. Emily Vasey, a WHC
personal trainer, set Fitterer up with an
individualized weight-lifting program.
Fitterer continued her running regimen, too.
Carvell said impact types of exercise like running
and walking stress the bone in a positive way.
“The bone responds by becoming thicker,
stronger, more dense and less prone to fracture,” Carvell said. “We also looked at ways Cazanne could build muscle strength because strength training protects joint health and stimulates an increase in bone density.”
said. As a medically-based fitness center,WHC differs from many fitness centers in that its staff is not only focused on helping women develop exercise programs but can also help them recover from injuries or improve
symptoms related to diseases. Physical therapists, personal trainers and
massage therapists work as a team to help women feel strong and improve
their health, Carvell said. WHC provides free injury evaluations for members
|“It’s never too late to improve bone health,” said Dr. Laura Gehrig, a
Sanford Health orthopedic surgeon with special interests in osteoporosis
treatment. “Every 10 years our skeleton turns over, making new bone cells.
While it is true that bone loss increases with age, you can take steps to
prevent weakening your skeleton at any age.”
Dr. Gehrig recommends three glasses of milk a day plus calcium-rich foods
such as cheese, yogurt, almonds and broccoli. She also recommends more
vitamin D. “In northern latitudes, vitamin D deficiency is high due to
restricted sunlight, so it’s a good idea to add vitamin D supplements to
improve calcium absorption.”
Called a silent disease because its victims generally have no symptoms,
osteoporosis affects women four times more than men because of women’s
loss of estrogen at menopause, Dr. Gehrig said. As the disease advances,
patients develop chronic pain, are likely to experience major breaks such as
hip fractures and eventually lose the ability to do daily tasks.
“Your doctor can help you adjust your lifestyle to avoid developing
osteoporosis,” Dr. Gehrig said. “Or, if you have already been diagnosed, your
doctor will help you make changes that can result in decreasing bone
Fitterer first learned her bone density may be poor when she participated in
a free bone scan screening. Bone density scans are recommended beginning
at age 50, so Fitterer had never even considered having one.
“Since I was diagnosed, I’ve had a scan every year, and every year I saw a little bit of improvement,” she said. “It’s been a seven-year process, but it’s worth it. I don’t think I could have accomplished this without the Women’s Health Center.”
An individualized fitness plan can improve several disease problems, Carvell
Dr. Laura Gehrig
One of Fitterer’s goals had been to run a marathon. She did that last
September when she crossed the finish line for the Kroll’s Diner Bismarck
Marathon. She said she plans to continue “pounding the pavement” for many
years to come.
Click here for more information on Sanford Women's Health Center or call 701.323.6376. Also, follow the health center on Facebook by searching Sanford Women’s Health Center.