Who would have thought that exercising could actually strengthen our bones? You would think the opposite in this case because we were taught that the bones will deteriorate the older we become. Surely as we age our bones become less dense and more fragile. This occurrence for some may be due to inactivity, which in turn causes weight gain. Unfortunately, weight gain will add extra stress and pressure on our skeletal frames, which is certainly not a good thing for our overall health. Let’s face it the more we exercise and stay active the leaner we become, which in turn will cause less friction on our bones and joints. Are we headed for yet another aging issue by not utilizing our bodies the way they were intended to be used?
Some of the diseases and ailments that we face regarding our bones are the following; osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, fractures, falling, and chronic joint pain. I don’t know about you, but if I have an option to overcome or stop a disease from progressing I say why not kick in the butt while we still have a chance to.
Here are some simple exercises that we can add to our workout routine:
1) Regular brisk long walks – can reduce the risk of hip fractures up to 40% and improve bone density.
2) Yoga and tai chi help build flexibility, strength and balance which can in turn lower the risk of falling.
3) Weight-bearing exercises- these motions when applied will add tension to muscle as well as bone and the body will react to this by adding more bone density.
4) Cycling and swimming are best utilized for people who already have arthritis and should avoid high-impact aerobics such as jogging and tennis.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation there are two kinds of exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density and they are weight-bearing and muscle strengthening.
The list for weight bearing high-impact exercises would include dancing, aerobics, hiking, jogging/running, jumping rope, stair climbing and tennis. A safe alternative or low-impact weight bearing activity would include; elliptical machines, stair-step machines, fast walking on a treadmill or outdoors.
Muscle strengthening exercises are lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands, weight machines and lifting your own body weight aka push-ups and sit-ups. The Foundation recommends that we incorporate 30 minutes daily for the weight bearing exercises and two to three times a week for muscle strengthening activities to improve or maintain bone density. Of course we should always check with our Physician when we change or include any new activities in our workout program.
The good news is that this is one thing that we can improve by simply working out. Exercise is so important in reducing the risk of developing or progressing osteoporosis. Falls are one of the leading causes of death in the 65 and older population. Exercise helps build balance and flexibility which reduces the risk of falling. Unfortunately many older people will do nothing when it comes to activity until their health is threatened by serious disease or illness. We should be proactive if there is a simple solution especially when our quality of life is at stake. So love your bones by working out and they’ll love you back by strengthening and becoming more dense, after all they are the only ones you have, and you can’t afford to lose or break any of them!