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Exercise…For Your Bones?

If you’ve ever stepped foot through the door of an Optimum clinic there is no doubt you have heard us talking about muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves, but did you know that you can actually strengthen your bones through regular exercise? In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that all healthy adults perform resistance training exercises at least twice per week, with eight to twelve repetitions of eight to ten exercises to assist in the maintenance of bone health and density.

The Stats Don’t Lie

But why should you care? You don’t even see your bones, let alone feel any developments right? Well did you know that approximately 54 million people in the United States have low bone mineral mass and density, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis? Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. In fact, Osteoporosis is responsible for over 2 million fractures and costs roughly 20 billion dollars per year. Osteoporosis isn’t just as simple weak bones, it is caused by a number of conditions we see in our clinics every day including, but not limited to, cancer, eating disorders, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis and hyperthyroidism. Even medications, for example, Nexium can have a negative impact on bone mineral density.

Leveraging Weight-bearing Exercises & Resistance Training

So how do we strengthen our skeleton? Well whilst your daily walk will improve your general health, fitness and well-being, it won’t have a huge impact on your bone mineral density. The key is weight-bearing exercises such as jumping, skipping, jogging, running and resistance training. As strange as it sounds, the best way to improve those weak bones is to put pressure on them, which will in turn help stimulate bone formation and retain calcium.

However, if you do plan to perform weight-bearing or high impact activities we recommend doing so under the supervision of an Accredited Exercise Physiology to minimise the risk of injury. It should also be noted that sufferers of osteoporosis or osteopenia should partake in daily balance exercise due the heightened risk of a fracture is a fall was to occur and to avoid the dreaded ‘cycle of deconditioning’. The other factor that is extremely important when it comes to bone health is diet. Calcium and Vitamin D intake are of the utmost importance. Calcium is the building block of bone and Vitamin D is what the body uses to assist in the absorption of calcium. Without one, life becomes very hard for the other. Protein, fruits, vegetables, and other vitamins and minerals also play an important role in preventing bone loss.

So as you can see, the best way to treat/prevent osteopenia or osteoporosis is with diet and exercise, so why not ask your favourite Optimum exercise physiologist or dietician about what they can do to help. If you think you may be at risk, it is better we start working on your bone strength now. And remember, if you are concerned you may be experiencing a loss of bone mass/density, talk to your GP about a referral for a DXA scan.

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