Exercise can keep your bones healthy no matter what your age. It is important to practice exercise habits that promote bone growth throughout your life. “About 9 million Americans have osteoporosis and an estimated 48 million have low bone density. Studies suggest that approximately 1 in 2 women and up to 1-4 men age fifty and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis” (National Osteoporosis Foundation).
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone. The bone becomes porous which means that it has lost density and the structure has changed. The bone becomes weaker and is more likely to break than a healthy bone. Osteoporosis does not mean that all the bones in your body are damaged. Most likely it is clustered in several locations, and can be due to lack of bone usage in those areas.
There are different points of view on which bones are most prone to breakage. However studies provide some evidence that the spine, hips, and forearms are most likely to be hurt in a fall. Dr. Steven Hawkins, professor of exercise science at California Lutheran Universality states “Exercise stimulates bone formation because bone put under moderate stress responds by building density, and depending on your age and workout regimen, it can either increase or maintain bone-mass density.”
Here are 3 major areas to consider when exercising for healthy bones.
Weight-bearing exercises which increase bone density by working against gravity while standing.
Weight bearing exercise refers to using our own body weight to load the stress on the bones and work against gravity. Walking is a great weight bearing exercise because as we walk, each step stresses the hip, spine, and leg bones.
Here is a list of the popular weight bearing activities that can increase bone density:
• Aerobics and step-aerobics
• Jumping rope
• Stair climbing
• Weight lifting
• Cycling, but you must increase your resistance setting
It is a good idea to mix up your weight bearing activities so that no one area becomes stronger than another. So in a week you might walk, garden, and dance.
Strength training increases bone density by working against gravity either standing, sitting, or lying down.
When weight lifting there are several things to remember:
•Always rest for a day in between lifting workouts so the muscles have time to restore.
•In order to get the most benefits for the bones from lifting weights you should lift the heaviest weight you can and only do 6-8 repetitions. Work up to 12-15 repetitions and then go to a higher weight.
•Lift the weights very slowly using a count of 6 or 8 to lift up and again to lower.
Non-impact activities are beneficial for strengthening muscles, and promoting balance, and decreasing the risk of a fall.
Here are a few examples of non-impact activities:
• Tai chi
One thing you should learn to practice daily is the chair lift. It is simply getting up out of a chair without using your hands. Do this every time you get up and it will strengthen your legs and hips. If you find it difficult try different chair styles and height. Practice until you can rise on your own then go back to practicing in your regular chair. Always put your chair close to something you can reach in case you become unsteady. Make it a healthy habit to rise from a chair without the help of your hands.
Always check with a medical professional before starting or changing any exercise.
Be healthy, be happy!
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