Exercise for Bone Health

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your body, helping with everything from weight loss, reducing the risk of heart disease, boosting your mood, to improving self-esteem. Did you know that exercise also plays a very important role in maintaining bone health? Along with getting proper nutrition, exercise is one of the most important factors when it comes to giving your body what it needs to support your bone health.

Most of our bone mass is acquired by around the age of twenty and typically peaks sometime during your thirties. As a person gets older and the body starts to lose bone mass, it makes the bones weaker and more susceptible to developing osteoporosis, a condition that severely weakens the bones and increases the chances of fractures and breaks from falling down, all of which can seriously limit mobility and independence. By age 50 or older, around 55 percent of people will have some form of osteoporosis, with 80 percent of those affected being women. In some cases, a person can develop such severe osteoporosis that they can fracture a bone with something as simple as sneezing too hard! But if bone mass naturally decreases with age, what can be done to help prevent it and conditions such as osteoporosis?

This is where exercise comes in to the picture.

Getting enough exercise is important to all age groups when it comes to bone health. During childhood and adolescence, while bones are rapidly building strength and density, exercise helps to maximize the body’s peak bone mass and help prevent issues with poor bone health later on in life. As we get older, exercise helps by strengthening muscles around the bone, and by strengthening the bones themselves too. Just as your muscles respond to regular exercise by increasing in mass and becoming stronger, so do your bones. Because bone is a living tissue, it reacts in response to the forces placed upon it. So, when you exercise regularly, your bones adapt by increasing in calcium, building more cells and becoming denser. Not only does exercise help with increasing bone strength, it also aids in building muscle strength and maintaining balance and coordination, all of which can help prevent falls and related bone fractures.

Any type of exercise is going to be better than none, but for bone health there are two types of exercise that will help the most: weight-bearing and resistance exercises. The better of the two types of exercises are weight-bearing exercises, or those in which you work against gravity, where your feet and legs bear most of your weight.  Examples of weight-bearing exercises are walking, jogging, dancing, jumping rope, or even playing sports like basketball or soccer. These types of exercises are good for bone health because both muscles and gravity put a healthy amount of stress on bones and encourage bone health and muscle growth. Simply put, the higher the impact of the weight-bearing exercise, the greater the benefit for bone health.  Weight-bearing exercises should be done for at least 30 minutes a day, 3 to 4 times a week.

The second type of exercise that is beneficial to bone health is resistance exercise or any type of activities that focus on increasing muscle mass, which in turn helps to strengthen bones. Things like lifting free weights or using resistance bands are both examples of resistance exercises that can help strengthen bones.  The important factor here is to focus in on the major muscle groups such as the legs, arms. Resistance exercise should be done 2-3 times a week. It also important to make sure to give your muscles and bones at least one day of rest between work outs in order to allow the body time to regenerate and restore.

Exercise is important to bone health for both young people and older people alike and when used in conjunction with a balanced diet, which includes calcium and magnesium, this will set you on the right path to better bone health.

Chiro-Med Rehab Centre in Richmond Hill can help you come up with a plan to ensure the health of your bones and skeletal system. Our walk-in clinic in conveniently located at 10144 Yonge Street, just north of Major MacKenzie Drive in the heart of Richmond Hill. Visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 for more information.

April 6, 2014

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