Positive Energy 411 -Your Bone Health
To prevent osteoporosis or to improve poor bone health doctors frequently recommend "weight-bearing exercise". If you do a quick google search for the best weight bearing exercise you will always see walking listed. Weight bearing exercise is movement that forces you to work against gravity and involves carrying your own weight. Some examples of exercise where you don't carry your own weight are swimming and bicycling.
All the Best,
Bones are living tissue and just like your skin, bone cells constantly die and new bone cells regenerate. Your beautiful body has "censors" in your bones. When your bones are carrying weight and being challenged, it forces them to become stronger and generate new bone tissue. When your lifestyle requires very little challenge and you rarely carry our own weight, the bone cells get the message that they are not needed and new bone cells fail to be created at the rate needed to maintain healthy bones. At this point we lose bone density and open the door to osteoporosis.
Here are 2 quick exercises that will give your some insight into your bone health:
1. When cooking, cleaning dishes, brushing your teeth or any activity that involves a sink or counter, pay attention to whether or not you lean your weight against the counter. (when I examined myself I was shocked at how much of my day was spent leaning as opposed to standing up and carrying my own weight). After you have examined your own habits, take a look around and see how many people are leaning on things. People lean on shopping carts, counters, walls etc. If you stand tall and carry your own weight, your bones get the message to build new bone tissue. That's exactly the message I want my bones getting, don't you?
2. Take some time to either sit on the edge of a chair, sit on a stool or on the floor. The point of this exercise is to sit without having your back supported. You need to hold up your own body weight while you sit. How long does it take before you feel fatigued? In cultures where it's common to sit on floors or without chair backs, people are used to it and quite comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable after just a few minutes, that indicates that your bones are not used to holding up the weight of your upper body and most likely you have some postural imbalances adding to the discomfort.
If you feel fatigued and uncomfortable after completing either of these exercises, don't be discouraged. Bone health, muscle strength and good posture can be rebuilt.
Walking is essential to good bone health and if you also correct postural imbalances, hold up your own body weight throughout the day and embrace opportunities to challenge yourself by carrying groceries or other heavy objects when possible, you will be increasing muscle strength and bone density ALL DAY LONG.
Proper posture, daily walks, healthy diet, challenging your body, and regular sunshine are all vital for bone health. NASA has conducted valuable research on bone health in an effort to counteract the lack of gravity in space. It has been estimated that astronauts can lose as much bone density in one month as the average post-menopausal woman loses in one year because of zero gravity conditions that prevent normal challenges that come along with carrying your own weight. Taking supplements was not enough to counteract bone loss for the astronauts.
People confined to bed rest have also been shown to suffer significant bone loss. Studies on this population have taught us a lot about how essential movement and exercise are for bone strength. This is definitely a case of use it or lose it.
Whatever your current situation is, I invite you to be conscious of your habits. Take the opportunity to challenge and strengthen your body. Embrace more productive habits and set an example worthy of following for all those we hold near and dear.
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” - Edward Stanley (RM: This can be expanded to include all healthy habits, not just eating)
"The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits." - Dan Buettner
"Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment.....Under any circumstance, simply do your best." - Don Miguel Ruiz