Your bones are alive! Many people don’t realize that bone tissue is constantly shifting between breaking down and re-building. Most of the adult skeleton is replaced about every 10 years. If this were not so, a broken bone would never heal. The down side to this remodeling process is that as we get older the cells that break down bone tissue start to work at a faster rate than those that re-build it. This can lead to a serious bone loss disease known as osteoporosis. Women typically experience this progressive condition with the onset of menopause (50+). Men maintain stronger bones for longer but can also experience severe bone loss later in life (70+).
So what can we do to help keep our bones healthy?
Weight bearing and strength training exercise along with proper nutrition and supplementation are weapons we can use in the fight against these diseases. Let’s review what is considered weight bearing and resistance exercise and then I will give you a few easy things you can do throughout your day to keep your bones stimulated and shifting in the right direction.
Bone Strengthening Exercise
Bone strengthening activity is any activity that forces muscles to pull or tug on the bones with some force or load. This can include weight-bearing activities, like walking, jogging and jumping as well as strength training exercises. One thing to keep in mind is that the stimulation of bones is joint specific. Thus, you must direct these forces towards the different parts of your body; making sure to balance the exercises that target your legs and hips with those for your shoulders, arms and spine.
Here are a few easy ways to stimulate your bones throughout the day with nothing more than a stable wall space:
1. Heel Drop: After a leg warm up (i.e. marching in place or going for a short walk), stand tall facing a wall with your hands lightly supported on the wall for balance. Engage your core muscles (chest lifted, shoulders back and down, waistline pulled inward and pelvic floor lift). From this position lift and drop your heels down in a light bouncing action for 30 seconds (15 to 30 reps). To advance this exercise you can add a light jump off the floor. Stretch the calves as illustrated after completing the drops.
2. Push-Away: Face the wall and place hands in push up position on the wall. Bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the wall. Push off the wall slightly the catch yourself back against the wall. Increase the intensity of this exercise by inclining the body to a greater degree. Repeat this push and catch action for 30 seconds (15 to 30 reps).
3. Shoulder & Spine Press: Stand or sit with your backside against the wall (head, shoulders, hips). Position your arms in a ‘goal post’ position. Inhale deeply and as you exhale press your arms and spine into the wall. Modify by placing hands down at your sides and lowering the hips. Hold that position for 30 seconds (3 to 5 deep breaths).
*Always check with your physician before beginning a new exercise program and warm up your muscles prior performing strength specific exercises.