By Heather Glidden
When was the last time you sent a little gratitude to your bones? Your bones hold you up, protect you, and even play a role your immune system. Having healthy bones is foundational to good health, but an estimated 44 million people in America have osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones weak and more likely to break.
The good news is that you are never too old or young to improve the health of your bones. A well designed exercise program can help to prevent bone loss and may even improve bone density.
The population at highest risk for osteoporosis is women over the age of 50. The biggest concern associated with bone loss is fracture. The U.S. Surgeon General reports that nearly half of all women and a quarter of all men older than 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis, and 90-95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. The most sobering statistic is that only 40 percent of people regain their pre-fracture level of independence.
So maintaining good bone health is a great way to help you maintain your independence and quality of life.
How does exercise help? Muscles get bigger and stronger when you use them. Bones are similar: they get stronger and denser when you make them work. “Work” for bones means handling impact. Building stronger muscles and improving balance also reduces your risk of falling which in turn reduces the risk of fracture.
There are four key elements that should be included in any exercise program geared toward building healthy bones:
This includes activities that make you move against gravity while being upright such as fast walking, running, and stair climbing. Biking and swimming are great exercises, but they do not help your bone health because there is no force of impact.
Improved posture helps to keep your shoulders and spine upright, decreasing the chance of spinal fractures. It also improves your breathing which creates more ease in all of your other movements and improves your overall wellbeing.
Strengthening your legs and core while challenging your balance will build confidence and decrease your risk of falling.
Working against resistance creates a healthy stress on the bones that stimulates them to get stronger.
The final key is consistency. The best exercise program is one that you can stick with in the long run. Research shows that even when you know it’s good for you… if you don’t find joy in it, you are not going to stick with it. Look for an exercise program designed by knowledgeable professionals that feels good in your body. Using the above principles can move you in the direction of your goals for healthy bones. Ask for exercises that you can do at home to keep you making progress between sessions. If you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, but sure to ask your trainer if they have training or experience in working with osteoporosis.
Building healthy bones is a lifelong activity, and now is the best time to start!
Heather Glidden is an integrative movement specialist and bodyworker. She is a certified Gyrotonic and Pilates instructor and a licensed massage therapist with 14 years of experience helping those with a history of pain or injuries to get back to moving and feeling great. Together with Darlene Sosenko, she owns JOY, a studio in downtown Ann Arbor specializing in an integrative approach to creating wellbeing through movement. Her mission is to help people feel at home in their bodies. Her training has taken her around the world, studying with top instructors including Gyrotonic Method creator Juliu Horvath. She believes that true health is multi-dimensional, and she works with each client to discover how their movement training can best serve their overall wellness.
Learn more at: http://www.joyannarbor.com
READ ABOUT THE ANN ARBOR WELLNESS COALITION: http://weloveannarbor.com/2018/04/16/ann-arbor-wellness-coalition-takes-a-holistic-approach-to-the-whole-body/