Build your bones by exercise
World osteoporosis day is October 20. Lets protect our bones by focusing on weight bearing exercises during our Pilates sessions and also balancing challenges to prevent falls.
Osteoporosis is known as the ‘silent disease’ because there are no symptoms prior to a fracture. However, once a person has broken a bone, their risks of breaking another – so-called fragility fracturee – increases dramatically.
Often osteoporosis is not diagnosed until there has been more than two bone fractures. Women are the main sufferers of osteoporosis, but men suffer from this too, and usual onset is after 50 years of age or after menopause, but can be seen in younger women especially those that have eating disorders or digestive diseases such as Crohn’s disease as this prevents the absorption of calcium. Some cancer treatments can also speed up the process of loss of bone density affecting both men and women.
Bones and muscles are the physical pillars that help us stand tall and strong. And we need to stay strong. One of my clients was told by a specialist that her bones were so porous that in a few years time if she rolled over in bed she would crack a rib. She was in her thirties and had 4 children under 10. I felt her pain and despair. She was a mother of four and the pillar of her family – as most women are, and now a specialist was telling her that her bones were like egg shells. Determined to keep bone breakage at bay she was passionate and consistent with her Pilates practice and has yet to break a bone.
Bone density increases with weight baring activity, so lifting weights, walking, pushing and pulling against resistance is crucial to maintaining strong and healthy bone structure.
Exercise frequency is important too. Ideally a bone -building program should be done three times per week for optimal results. Taking calcium and vitamin D and C will assist with the absorption of calcium and assist in keeping bones strong.
The best exercises for increasing bone density in the Pilates studio are those done in an upright position such as standing leg press, and lunges on the Chair, standing leg springs on the Caddie, and scooter on the Reformer. Other excellent exercise choices include movements seated or standing against resistance such as seated or standing arm springs and lat pull downs on the Caddie, seated arm series on the Reformer, and arm weights seated or combined with ball squats. If you are doing any side lying, supine, or prone mat work, strap ankle weights on and gradually increase the resistance. You can develop a fantastic workout for osteoporosis and osteopenia by focusing also on strengthening the thoracic spin extensors; exercises to include are swimming, rising swan, single leg kick, and double leg kick. Remember functional exercises build bone, so anything standing or sitting against weighted resistance will work. A real challenge but fantastic choice for bone, muscle and functional movement is bicep curl squats with the Caddie – everything works!
Other crucial exercises to include are balancing exercises. These build confidence and prevent falls, which cause the fractures. Anything that stands on one leg such as the standing leg press on the chair, lat pulls standing on one leg with one eye closed, or scooter with hands off the footbar.
The benefit of keeping up a regular exercise program beside building bone mass, is that you will build arm and leg strength and muscle tone, feel better because of the endorphins created through exercises, and will have more energy and feel more youthful and better able to deal with day to day challenges.
Make bone and muscle health a priority in your life. Prolong your life and enjoyment of life. Tell the men and women in your life who you care about to look after their bones through exercise. Make the commitment to keep moving!