Exercise Can Fight Against Osteoporosis
Millions of people worldwide suffer with osteoporosis. Those who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density, but not low enough to be a risk factor for fracture), most likely, the bones’ ability to develop has not been affected yet. It just so happens that we may have simply stopped “loading” them.
The good news for us is that it is unlikely that bone density is low throughout our body. Simple weight exercises activities can be started anytime. These will signal the bones to start growing.
The most common places prone to bone loss are the hips, ribs, wrists, and spine. The main reason behind this is simply the lack of use. Because of present-day habits, especially in the urban and corporate areas, these joints don’t get loaded to their fullest potential.
For example, the hips—these are designed to rotate and have a wide range of motion. Definitely, they don’t get much movement if we sit in front of our desks and computers for six hours a day. Because of this, our body receives a message that it doesn’t have to maintain as much density as if the hips were moving in the way they are designed to move.
For those who are regularly exercising, but still have low bone density, Katy Santiago, a biomechanics expert recommends applying the following tips:
Vary your movements.
Choose activities and exercises that make the body work in different directions than the usual. If most of your workouts consist of leg movements, try something else for a change.
If you’re so used to using the treadmill, getting off it is one way to work new muscles. Dancing and other aerobic classes introduce new movements and steps that will challenge your joints in novel ways. Even just walking sideways for one minute in each direction each day will challenge hip muscles.
Know the difference between weight bearing-exercises and using weights.
Even some fitness professionals sometimes confuse these concepts. Any exercise program can include using weights, but what actually delivers healthier bones is the weight-bearing exercise.
Using weights can mean any type of resistance exercise—from handheld weights to body resistance exercise, like push-ups or yogic arm balance poses, weight machines, and circuit equipment. Because the skeleton’s job is to bear the entire weight of the body, lifting three-, five-, or even 20-pound weights is not as beneficial to bone health as being naturally strong enough to carry your own body mass.
Weight-bearing, on the other hand, specifically refers to holding up of the body weight while exercising. Therefore, walking is more weight-bearing than bicycling, while swimming is the least weight bearing due to the natural buoyancy of the water that does most of the work.
Choose activities that will make you get on your feet to load up the bones.
Instead of using the stationary bike, go for a walk. Instead of getting a golf cart, walk the course. Take standing breaks if the work requires long hours of sitting.
One good way to test the weight-bearing strength of bones is to see how long we can stand to stand. If we feel we need to be seated within the 20-minute mark, our muscle mass is insufficient to hold up our body. Improve it by gradually decreasing sitting time by 10 percent to start. For those who sit in front of the television for two hours straight, try getting up during commercials and stand on one leg at a time.
Heal your heels and toes.
Wearing flats helps build bone density. Wearing heels and cushioned shoes dampen the vibrations that naturally build bone density in the hips and spine.
The way we walk can also signal problems that may contribute to bone loss. How a person’s heels strike the ground results in tight calf muscles; there could be decreased vibrations moving up the leg. These vibrations are needed to keep the bones of the hip joints and femurs strong.
Choose a well-balanced fitness program.
Fracture is the most significant health risk for anyone with low bone density. The most common cause of fractures is falling, so choose exercises that improve balance. Yoga is a well recommended activity to improve balance.