Exercise for Building Better Bones
Exercise is an important component in the overall strategy for improving the
health and strength of
your bones. The optimal exercise regime for preventing osteoporosis has yet to
be established, but these guidelines are based on our current state of
knowledge. We do know that exercise works best when you have adequate levels of
estrogen, calcium intake and vitamin D. The diet should be low in fat with
emphasis on cereals ,fruits and vegetables.
We think of bones as solid, rocklike structures, instead they're living
tissue that is constantly changing. Peak bone mass usually occurs between age 20
and 30 and then slowly declines. Bone loss accelerates during the first several
years following menopause. A Recent study indicated that a fat-laden diet could
lead not only to obesity and heart disease but to the thinning, fragile bones of
osteoporosis. The foods we eat, the amount of physical activity we perform and
various environmental and genetic factors contribute to bone health. If you have
been diagnosed with osteoporosis , check with your physician before starting any
Effect of good/bad Posture
How we work, play, sit and move can determine the chronic stress placed on
our spine. Viewed from the side, the spine is shaped like an S-curve. It is ten
times stronger when these natural curves are maintained. Good posture and body
mechanics can alleviate/prevent back pain and protect your spine against
When standing, an imaginary vertical line should connect your ear,
shoulder & hip.
Don't lock your knees. Stand with feet straight ahead or slightly turned
Pull in your stomach muscles so as to prevent a sag.
Maintain a normal (not flat or exaggerated) curve in your low back.
Do NOT sit or stay in the same position for prolonged periods of time.
Sit in a firm, straight-back chair with your buttocks all the way back.
Use a lumbar roll to maintain the natural curve in your low back.
Tuck your chin in and pull your head straight back.
To get out of a chair, slide forward without slouching and then stand
Moving & Lifting:
Keep an upright back.
Use your legs instead of your back ,when you lift even the lightest
object. Keep a wide base of support. Squat down, keeping your chest upright.
Avoid forward bending. If you must lean forward, bend where your legs
meet your trunk, NOT at your waist.
When lifting, hold objects close to you. Keep the activity close to your
Avoid twisting movements. Always point your feet in the direction you're
It requires lots of practice before new ways of performing daily tasks
become a habit. But the payoff is long-term back health. Observe how many
times you bend over and how many hours you're sitting during a typical day:
ie. cleaning the bathtub, picking up a child, reaching for your workout bag
or purse, gardening, commuting, watching t.v. or
working on the computer. Start off with
a few changes. Make a consistent effort to be aware of your movements and
protect the normal curves of your spine.
Much of our day is spent sitting or bending ,thanks to advancement of
science. This can tighten
some muscles and put a lot of stress on the spine. As part of an overall program
of stretching, develop good flexibility in your spine, hamstrings (back thigh),
hip flexors (front thigh) and pectoral (chest) muscles. Avoid forward bending
exercises to prevent extra stress on the bones and discs of the spine. Stretch
the muscles to a point of tension, not pain, and hold the stretch for 15-30
seconds at least 3 -5 times daily or as directed by your physical therapist.
Strength training is probably one of the most important things you can do to
build or maintain
strong bones. During exercise muscles are challenged, to pull on their bony
attachments stimulating bone formation. If you want to increase bone mass in a
particular bone, the exercise must recruit muscles that attach to that bone. It
has been observed that a certain strength training intensity stimulates bone
growth. You must challenge a muscle to fatigue after about 8-10 repetitions, 2-3
times/week. It's important to gradually increase resistance as your muscles
become stronger, instead of cruising through a workout that has become easy. Use
of free weights appears to stimulate bone growth in the hips (probably due to
weight-bearing). To increase bone density in the spine, utilize either free
weights or exercise machines. Have an exercise professional design a
well-balanced strength program for you involving major muscle groups,
particularly in the hips, wrists and spine (common osteoporosis fracture sites).
Learn proper exercises for the upper/lower back and abdominals to give you
strength for good posture.
Weight Bearing Exercise
Each time we step, jump, run or balance on part of our body, the impact causes
compressive force on the bone which in turn
encourages bone building. That's
why it's important to participate in regular weight-bearing exercise which is
appropriate for your fitness level and current bone health. For example: very
fast walking, uphill walking, stair-stepping, jump rope or jumping activities,
high-impact aerobics, jogging, certain types of dancing, soccer, tennis, squash
and basketball can be good exercise choices for bone-building. High impact
forces and a variety of movement patterns cause a stronger bone response.
However, your strength, heart health and bone integrity must be adequate for
safe exercise. Your doctor or physical therapist can tell you what's safe and
effective for you.
Strength training exercises done standing (or when balancing your weight on a
leg or hand) are also an important part of a weight-bearing exercise program.
Good levels of strength and flexibility guarantee that you'll keep your balance
more easily. To help prevent falls, activities that require balance are also
good to practice. Many forms of dance
can promote good balance.
A simple exercise: Practice standing on one foot for 30 seconds. Repeat with
the other leg. When you can do this easily, try it with your eyes closed or
while moving the "air leg" forward-and-back or out-and-in. There are all kinds
of balance games and activities you can do. Remember to progress gradually and
provide for something to grab if you need a balance check.
As an adolescent or young woman, exercise can boost your bone mass. After
the mid-thirties, success means keeping the bone you have (or slowing the rate
of bone loss). Whatever your age, exercise is good medicine for your body and
Dated 15 September 2011