Exercise and bone density; it is currently estimated that more than 200 million people are suffering from osteoporosis. As you age you become a higher risk for developing osteoporosis, according to recent statistics from International Osteoporosis Foundation, worldwide. The startling statistics are that 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 and one in five men will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Can exercise increase bone density?
How Strong are Your Bones?
The body is made up of 206 bones of many different sizes and shapes. When you were born, you had even more bones – around 300. Some of these bones grow together, or fuse as babies get older.
How strong your bones are, in part, determines the quality of your life.
Because you have bones (and muscles) you can move about. Your ability to move about is essential to your independence. When you cannot come and go at will, you tend to stop making plans to exercise, go out with friends or even go out for a walk.
You do not want to become dependent on others to provide your necessary care. It is often difficult to maintain your self-esteem when you need to rely on others for basic care.
But there is hope!
Fortunately, there are certain lifestyle habits that can keep you healthy and going for a long time. You will find that exercise and vital bone density go hand in hand.
Bones offer Protection
Bones provide a strong protective layer around your organs. They keep your organs safe from many injuries.
Your Rib Cage
– protects your heart, lungs, and many other vital organs from injury. The ribs are not easily broken. But occasionally you will hear of someone who has had the bad fortune of breaking their ribs.
– The same thing goes for the brain. Your skull protects your brain from serious injury. Getting a concussion is a constant concern to those who play contact sports. Sometimes even the skull is not tough enough for a blow from a hockey puck.
Your Bones offer Support
Built around a strong, supportive framework, your bones allow you to stand upright and keep your shape.
The length of your legs or the size of your hands is determined by the size of your bones. This determines how tall or short you are.
What is Bone Health?
Bones are a Storehouse
When you look at a skeleton in a museum, you may think that bones are dead and lifeless. That is not the case in real life. Bones are a living, growing tissue.
Sixty-five percent of bone tissue is inorganic mineral. The major minerals being calcium and phosphorus.
Collagen, the softer part of your bones is encased by strong minerals, of which calcium phosphate plays the largest part. These minerals strengthen and harden the bones.
The combination of collagen and calcium makes bones strong and flexible. It is what helps athletes do what they do.
Distressing Facts about Osteoporosis
Unfortunately, hip fractures result in early death. One in five people with hip fractures end up in a nursing home. Many have a fear of falling which leaves them feeling isolated and depressed.
But there is good news. It does not have to happen to you.
How Can I Improve My Bone Health?
Before beginning any new exercise program, always consult with your physician or other healthcare provider.
Exercise and physical therapy are your best line of defense. The best way to keep moving your whole life is to stay moving.
Regular physical activities are necessary. They are essential to protect your mobility. Believe it or not, exercise is very effective for osteoporosis.
It builds strong, vital bones, and a strong body. This contributes to better balance and a reduced risk of falls. Regardless of your age you can increase your activity or level of exercise.
Walking and hiking are great options. Check with your doctor to see if dancing, tennis, and volleyball are good for you. These are awesome sports to maintain your physical and social health.
Warm Up to These Exercises
You can start with something as simple as water bottles or cans of soup. Gradually increase to weights – 2, 5, 10, 25 pounds, and so on, as long as you are in good health.
There are some seniors in good health, who can lift more weights than young men who are also in good shape. Nevertheless, speak with your doctor before changing or increasing your exercise routine.
Exercise and Bone Density
Start slowly and increase your exercise gradually. As you exercise, your bone and muscle strength increases. But don’t go overboard and suddenly begin lifting heavy weights or doing exercise that you are not used to doing, you are asking for big trouble.
Your body responds best as you treat it gently, gradually adding greater and greater demands at a safe pace.
Resistance exercise means that you are working against the weight of another object. These exercises increase bone density as well as build muscle strength. Resistance bands are an inexpensive form of strength training.
Turn Down These Exercises Cold!
You should avoid high-impact, exercises such as running or jogging and bending or twisting.
Forward Bending Crunches
If you have osteoporosis you should avoid extreme forward bending positions, such as sit ups or forcefully bring your knees to your chest as in abdominal crunches or toe touching. This type of exercise can increase the risk of compression fractures in your spine.
If you already have osteoporosis it is best to avoid twisting exercises. There are some yoga positions to avoid. Deep hip stretches like the pigeon pose should be avoided.
The Warrior pose is also not recommended. Check with your doctor before choosing golf or bowling as an exercise.
Physical Therapy is a great, non-surgical treatment for osteoporosis. By working with a physical therapist, you may get help to restore your bone strength.
You may regain healthy movement and function. You will learn how to decrease your risk of an osteoporosis related fracture.
The treatment your doctor recommends will be determined by your muscle strength, fracture risk, range of motion, level of activity, gait, and balance. Your entire fitness level will be considered.
If you have health related problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease, that will also be taken into consideration.
Begin Prevention Early On
There are about 100 different types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is sometimes called degenerative or wear-and-tear arthritis.
In osteoarthritis the cartilage in your joints wears away. As a result, it is painful, as bone rubs against bone, with no cartilage there as a cushion.
You Can’t Entirely Prevent Osteoarthritis
There are some things that you can do.
- Keep a healthy weight. The more pounds you require your joints to carry, the more difficult it is on your joints.
- Control your blood sugar. If you are a diabetic, have your blood sugar levels checked regularly. Work with your healthcare provider to manage your blood sugar levels.
- Stay active. It keeps your muscles strong so they can give good support to your joints. Exercise keeps your joints from getting stiff. Discuss safe exercises with your physiotherapist or healthcare provider. A varied exercise routine uses all your body and prevents stress to the same joints every day.
- Prevent getting injured in the first place. You are more prone to get osteoarthritis in a joint that has been previously injured.
- Pay attention to pain. The standard home remedy is the RICE method. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If these methods do not work, discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Working with My Healthcare Provider
You probably would see a doctor because of pain or swelling.
During the physical examination, the doctor will examine the joint for tenderness, swelling, redness and flexibility. After the examination he/she may recommend bone density testing.
Your doctor may order X-rays or an MRI. Unless it is a complex situation, an MRI is not usually necessary.
Blood tests can rule out other possibilities of the source of the pain. The doctor may use a needle to withdraw some fluid from the joint to again rule out other possible sources of pain.
Once the doctor has made a diagnosis, he/she may recommend medication to reduce the pain.
A Physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joints. This will increase your flexibility and reduce pain. Regular exercises such as swimming or walking can be equally effective.
If osteoarthritis interferes with daily activities, an Occupational therapist can help you find ways to cope. For instance, implementing large handles on utensils will make them easier to use.
Cortisone injections, and surgery are other options available to your physician if he/she feels the condition warrants that approach.
There are drugs to reduce the risk of fractures of people at risk
Large-scale trials have been done which confirmed the value of vitamin D and calcium supplements. You can speak with your doctor about this.
Many Americans are unaware and uninformed about arthritis. The reason being, Arthritis is not a killer disease like cancer. Yet arthritis does cause pain and suffering to about one in five of every adult in America.
May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. It is aimed at the rest of Americans who do not have the disease. Those who do have arthritis are already painfully aware of it.
Can you achieve and maintain vital bone strength? As you have seen in the above article, exercise and bone density go hand in hand. We have discussed ways to improve vital bone health. Overall, we have found that exercise and bone density do go hand in hand.
Some tips for those with osteoporosis:
- Maintain your weight in a healthy range
- Stay active and exercise
- Keep good posture, don’t slouch
- Listen to your body, don’t ignore the pain
- Work with your healthcare provider
Please Leave a Comment
I would love to hear from you! Do you or someone you know have osteoarthritis? What coping mechanisms have you found?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.