15 February 2024

Bone Health

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Do you ever think about how important your skeleton is or how much you need strong bones?  Probably not as it isn’t something we think about as much as maybe our weight.

Stop & think about it.  Our bones are essential to our health and survival.

Remarkably, paying attention to our bone health is still viewed very much as ‘an old persons problem’.

Hence, I thought it was time to teach you a bit more about how you can look after your bones.

The Importance of Bone Density

This has been a really interesting topic of research over the years, as they have found out that bones do and can re-grow.  However, bone needs help in this process.

  • Statistics tell us that with a globally aging population, declining bone health and Osteoporosis is on the rise.  This is contributing to the increase in mortality for those who survive breaks and a dramatic loss of independence and quality of life otherwise.
  • From our mid 30’s everyone, males and females, start to lose bone density – it is a part of the aging process. So from the mid 30’s everyone needs to start looking after their bones.
  • However, in the first 3 – 5 years post menopause, women’s bone density declines much more rapidly, due to the decline in oestrogen.  (It does level out / not as intense decline after that)
  • Women who have a full hysterectomy – where their ovaries are removed, they will be much more susceptible to lower bone density or osteoporosis.
  • Women who go through early menopause are also much more at risk of low bone density/osteoporosis.
  • in the UK & US 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 will experience a fracture
  • scarily, the mortality rate for those who experience a hip fracture increases by 20% in the 12 months after the fracture (international Osteoporosis society).  It is mainly due to inability to walk & hence it then affects heart health too.

What you can do to support your bones & keep them healthy & strong

  • try to cut down on alcohol – those who drink heavily can have a leaching of calcium from the bone
  • try to cut down on salt, try to cut down on sugar – high sugar levels slows bone formation & impairs fracture mending
  • cut down on smoking – research has shown that smoking impede certain hormones needed to help build bones & they destroy the Osteoblasts (bone cells)
  • look at your posture – constantly on the phone, computer?  Think about getting a standing desk so your computer is nearer eye level, use headphones more, bring your phone up level to your face more
  • eat dairy and foods with calcium in them – almonds, leafy greens, tofu, eggs, milk, soya milk
  • Work on your balance – they always suggest standing on one leg when brushing your teeth.  Why not, nothing else to do.  Once this is easy start looking around whilst on 1 leg – that gets harder.  Then try it with your eyes shut!!
  • if you have to take steroids then you need to think about your bone health more – it can have a big impact on the bones
  • those who drink a lot of coca cola type drinks – it is full of phosphoric acid and this has been linked to lower bone density
  • MOVE – bone is RE-ACTIVE NOT proactive.  For bone to get stronger and for them to induce remodelling, bones must experience stress – ie impact.
  • eating disorders & having a low muscle mass as you age can have a negative impact on the bones.
  • Vitamin D deficiency – I think everyone knows that Vitamin D is the one vitamin to help bone health.  Take supplements from October through to May time.  Get your levels checked, some people need to be on Vitamin D all year around.

The importance of exercise for bone health especially in the menopausal years

As I said above, exercise and moving more can really help your bone health.  Here are some tips to start, easy and very doable, you just need to make some time for them in your day:

  • Walk more – if you do, that is great.  If you have a sedentary job make time to walk at lunch time, go downstairs to make a cuppa or get out of the office in lunch time – use the stairs
  • If you enjoy exercise – try to book in a minimum of 3 sessions a week – they don’t need to be long, but if you can do jumps – burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps that is great.  If your pelvic floor doesn’t allow it then it is about doing movements which create impact but it is less stress on the pelvic floor
  • Don’t be scared of strength training.  Honestly, it is worth starting if you  never have.  Strength training can start with body weight exercises, bands, light dumbbells & then progress to heavier and then heavier weights.  In my Online Membership I have lots of strength classes and the techniques of how to do them too.
  • Build muscle mass – we lose it, like bone, from the mid 30’s and then more dramatically post menopause.  Work on strength exercises or cardio – remember your heart is a muscle. Muscles support and protect the bones, so it is important.
  • Cycling and swimming – I wanted to touch on this.  So long as you push yourself, build muscle mass to support the bones and get out of breath – these exercises are excellent for your health.  HOWEVER, they are NOT exercises that will help your bone health as there is no impact so the bones don’t get stressed to build back stronger.
  • Most importantly – to keep doing the exercise you want to.  Choose something you enjoy and will keep up.  Try lots of different classes – dancing, Nordic walking, step, aerobics, body pump, body balance, yoga or pilates, walking or jogging with friends.  Try the weights classes or with a PT, learn how to lift properly, you may really enjoy it!

To finish, remember, it is your body and it is essentially only you who can look after it and take some of these preventative measures.

Too often people only do something when they break a bone or have a DEXA scan and are told they have osteopenia (pre- osteoporosis) or osteoporosis.  Start NOW no matter what age you are.

Still not sure which fitness class is for you?

Are you a woman who has pelvic girdle pain? Do you have pelvic floor issues? Have you had a C-section, episiotomy or tears? Do you have a Diastasis Recti or weak deep abdominals? Are you peri – menopausal? Do you want to get fit in a safe environment? I can help, get in touch to find out more.

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