Want to prevent bone loss? Try these 4 things!
We all know that exercising regularly is healthy, right? Whether you want to reach a specific goal, improve your mobility, or feel energetic, exercising makes up part of the foundation for a happy, healthy lifestyle. Exercise is considered to be part of "alternative medicine" (in or opinion, it shouldn't be an "alternative", it should one of your first steps in maintaining your health and preventing chronic disease). It is well documented that exercise can help prevent or reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions, including bone loss or osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental illness, etc.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease characterized by bone loss/porous bones. Unfortunately, the first indication of osteoporosis if often a fracture and THEN a diagnosis is made. This is why it is important to focus on prevention and slowing the progression of osteopenia or osteoporosis by building up bone density through diet and exercise. For best results, an exercise plan should consist of the four following types of training to target bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures:
- Strength Training
- Weight Bearing
It's important that you perform all four types of exercises in order to get the full benefit.
What? Free weights (i.e., dumbbells), weight machines, exercise bands
Why? Strength training improves bone mass and strengthen muscles. It involves performing movements (lifting, pulling, pushing) against resistance.
How? Exercise for 20-30 minutes (you can break them up throughout the day) 2-4 days/week. Alternate days to allow your body to rest in between workouts.
What? Be aware of your posture and maintain proper posture throughout the day.
Why? Proper posture helps to prevent injuries to the spine. Poor posture with osteoporosis may cause fractures of the vertebrate and weakening of the back extensors muscle causing the spine to curve more than usual. This curvature may lead to exaggerated Kyphosis or excessive curved upper back.
How? Stand up straight and tuck your abdomen inwards (navel towards your spine). Look straight ahead, chin slight tucked towards your chest and gently bring your chest up. Bring awareness to your posture as you may find yourself slouching over the course of the day.
What? Some example of activities that help to improve balance include Tai Chi, Dancing, and Yoga.
Why? Balance exercise can help to reduce the risk of falls and fractures.
How? Simply stand on one leg and try to balance yourself for 30-40 seconds. You can close your eyes or stand on an unstable surface (i.e., Bosu ball) to challenge yourself further. To avoid injury, make sure you have something near by to hold onto if needed such as a stool, chair, wall, counter, etc. You can also choose an activity (see above) that will help to improve balance. Balance exercises should be perform daily for 15-20 minutes.
Weight Bearing Activity
What? Weight-bearing activity (i.e., walking, hiking, running)
Why? Weight-bearing activity promotes bone remodelling, increasing bone density and prevention bone loss and osteoporosis.
How? Perform weight-bearing activity for 2-3 days/week for 10-30 minutes (continuous). Keep in mind that not all cardiovascular activity is weight-bearing such as swimming, cycling, rowing as they do not place stress on your bones.
There you have it. These four types of exercises can be done individually or by combining 2-4 types of exercises together. Tai Chi, yoga, and Zumba are great examples of complimenting all four exercises together.
Eat, Move, Live, Mindfully
Martin Garneau NSCA-CPT