Your bones provide your body with structural support for organs and other body segments. They also provide support for your muscles, allowing them to move and are a major storage space for calcium (with about 99% of your body's calcium being stored in your bones). Although, major bone growth occurs during childhood and adolescence (with peak bone mass being reached by age 30), there are important steps you can take to keep your bones healthy in adulthood and into older age.
Bone health is important because your bones are continuously changing. Even during adulthood new bone is being created and old bone is being broken down. There are a variety of things that affect bone health and the risk of osteoporosis including gender, race , hormones, age, tobacco and alcohol use, medications, the amount of calcium in your diet and physical activity. Today's blog post is focusing on physical activity. In the most simple terms, those who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than those who are physically active.
What is osteoporosis?
It is a disease characterized by low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue (Osteoporosis Canada, 2017). Osteoporosis is a very common disease, in fact 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from a osteoporotic related fracture in their lifetime (Osteoporosis Canada, 2017).
Including exercise in your daily routines is one of the steps you can take to help keep your bones healthy. Various studies have found exercise (specifically strength and resistance training) can protect your bones and help prevent osteoporosis. Studies show that those who strength train over a period of time prevent bone loss and stimulate new bone formation. When you maintain muscle strength, not only are you helping strengthen your bones, but you are also working on your balance and coordination (both important to preventing falls and fractures).
Resistance (weight/strength) training becomes even more important as you age and naturally lose your muscle mass. In fact, research found that high intensity resistance training, compared to nutrition and medications for improving bone health in older adults had added benefit in improving strength, balance, and improved muscle mass (Layne&Nelson, 1999)
Take home messages:
1) Resistance training can improve your muscle mass and strength
2) Resistance training and weight bearing physical activity can help prevent bone loss
3) Resistance training and exercises that challenge your balance, coordination, and flexibility can help prevent falls
4) Exercise can also provide mental health benefits, heart health benefits, prevent other chronic diseases and conditions, increase energy, and overall mental clarity
Steps you can take to help keep your bones healthy:
1) If new to resistance training, think about starting with a personal trainer or trying a weight based group fitness class (e.g. sculpt)
2) Try using light ankle weights when walking around your house or going for walks for some extra resistance
3) Try a yoga class to help with your balance and flexibility
4) Try a pilates class or home video to improve core strength and incorporate unique resistance training techniques (side note: pilates is one of my favourite ways to include resistance training in my routine. I am also in the process of becoming a certified instructor)
5) Include weight bearing, resistance training, and flexibility exercises throughout the week
Examples of weight bearing activities:
Walking, hiking, climbing stairs, jogging
Examples of resistance (weight or strength) training activities:
Free weights or machines (home or in the gym), using resistance tubing for various exercises (e.g. bicep curls), using medicine balls (e.g. for core exercises), using your own body weight (e.g. push ups, squats etc.)
Examples of flexibility exercises:
yoga and regular stretching
Bottom line: aim to incorporate resistance training, weight bearing activities, and flexibility activities in your daily life. Specifically, aim to incorporate resistance training to your routine 2-3 times a week.
If you currently don't have a fitness routine or don't incorporate resistance training, start small (even once per week). I promise your bones will thank you for it and support you through it!
If you have any questions or need help getting started, please don't hesitate to connect with me! :)
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO
Layne, JE. & Nelson, ME. (1999). The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density. A review. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9927006
Osteoporosis Canada (2017). Retrieved from: http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/
WebMD (2009). Women and Weight Training for Osteoporosis by Gina Shaw. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/weight-training#2