Skeletal Fitness: 3 Important Exercises

Skeletal FitnessSkeletal Fitness is important throughout our lives.

With 12,000 boomers a day turning 65, that’s one every 8 seconds for the next 18 years; and with 50% of women over the age of 50 projected to have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime, I thought I’d be a little practical this year and give you a mini workout to help you protect your bones.

Skeletal Fitness

Our bones are living tissue and grow stronger with weight bearing and resistance exercise. This is called Bone Loading and can help us maintain our skeletal fitness.

And since the three areas most at risk for Osteoporotic fracture are the Spine, the Hip and the Wrist, here are 3 easy Bone Loading exercises, one for each of those areas, you can do using a pair of hand weights or a couple of soup cans. Use a weight that makes the exercise feel somewhat hard after 8 reps. Remember to always exhale on the exertion. Do 8-15 reps of each of these exercises. Start where you’re comfortable and build up.

And of course always consult your doctor before beginning this Skeletal Fitness exerciseprogram.

Double arm row: Loads Spine

  • Start with arms in front of you, weights together.
  • Slowly row arms back, bending elbows bringing weights to chest height.
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together, without shrugging your shoulders.

 

Lunge – Loads Hip and Femur (thigh bone)

  • Stand tall, feet about shoulder width apart, hands and weights at your sides.
  • Keep body erect and lunge forward with left foot, bending both knees to help facilitate the move. (Right heel comes off the floor). Your front knee should be aligned over the second toe of that foot and your weight should be centered between your front and back foot.
  • Hold for 8 seconds, (remember to breathe) return to starting position and repeat lunging with right foot.

 

 

 

Wrist Curls

  • Hold arms in front of you palms up.
  • Using only your wrists, curl weights toward your body until knuckles are facing the ceiling.
  • Slowly lower and repeat.

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Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Is Your Thigh Bone Like The Eiffel Tower?

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthEach May, Osteoporosis Awareness Month, I devote my column to bone health. I first became interested in bones as a young dancer (about 200,000 years ago, in the Mid Paleolithic era). I was studying body alignment and I became fascinated with the skeleton and the remarkable living tissue that makes up our bones. I was intrigued by the intricate architectural structure of bone.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthThere’s the smooth, hard shell we see on the outside called cortical bone, and the amazing crisscrossed, honeycomb like structure on the inside called trabecular bone. The combination of cortical and trabecular bone make our skeletons, strong, light, flexible and efficient.

The structure of trabecular bone is the secret ingredient. The trabecular bracing structure is located at precisely the correct angles to absorb the maximum force.

So when you jump over a puddle or run for a bus, it’s the trabecular bracing that directs the force to the strongest part of your skeleton and prevents a bone from breaking.

Most of us aren’t aware of our beautiful bone structure. But, it hasn’t gone unnoticed or unutilized.

The structure of trabecular bone was copied by the French bridge builder Gustave Eiffel, who wanted to build the tallest man-made structure in the world. When he built the Eiffel tower in 1889, he calculated the positioning of the braces in the curves of the legs to direct any force like high winds on the entire structure to the strongest area; the four legs. This is why the Eiffel tower continues to stand the test of time.

That’s fine for an iron tower. If part of it becomes weakened you can see it and fix it. But what happens to weakened or damaged areas of our skeletons?

I was astonished to find out that bones are pretty smart. They don’t grow to adult size and then stop.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthOur skeletons are constantly getting rid of old weakened bone tissue and replacing it with new healthy bone. Osteoporosis Awareness MonthIn a process called remodeling, old weakened areas are broken down and replaced with new well-formed tissue. Our bodies replace about 10 percent of our bone each year.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthIn bones with osteoporosis, the remodeling process has gotten out of whack.Those sturdy crisscrossed structures disappear and bones get weak and start to fracture. Fractures occur most often where there is the most trabecular bone.

The three areas most at risk for osteoporotic fracture are the spine has the most trabecular bone. So, if you have osteoporosis, the vertebrae start to squash under the weight of the torso. The thighbone at the hip is next. It can break just stepping off a curb. And the wrist will likely break if you put out your hands to catch yourself in a fall.

Osteoporosis Awareness Month

But there’s a lot you can do to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health. Weight bearing exercise like walking, jogging, aerobic dance and weight resistance training, stimulate the remodeling process and promote bone growth.

Exercise should be site specific. Do weight bearing and resistance exercises for the whole body but pay special attention to the areas most at risk; the spine, the hip and the wrist. Calcium and Vitamin D are also important. Here’s a link to the current National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines. 

Remember your bones are living tissue. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

If you want to get started working out your bones, check out my specially priced

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Working Out Your Bones By Mirabai Holland, MFA ©2012

Weight Bearing Exercise

By now we all know that Osteoporosis makes bones so thin and porous that they can break during everyday activities like stepping off a curb or picking up a grocery bag.

We’ve all heard that estrogen protects women from bone loss and that we can loose up to 30% of our bone mass in the first 10 years after menopause. And we’ve heard that we should do weight bearing and resistance exercise to help prevent bone loss and promote bone growth.

But what IS weight bearing exercise? What’s the difference between weight bearing and resistance exercise? And what kind of exercise routine should I do to protect my bones?

I hear this all year long. So, here are the answers.

Weight bearing means literally making your bones carry weight. Standing makes your bones carry your body weight. Standing with your grandchild on your shoulders makes your bones carry your weight plus your grandchild’s.

Studies show that weight bearing exercises like walking and jogging that also apply impact to your bones are even more effective

Resistance exercise uses your muscles to apply mechanical forces to your bones like pushing (compression) pulling (tension), twisting (torsion), and bending.

So, the more weight, impact and resistance the better, right? No. Even if your body were a machine made of steel there would be a weight, impact and resistance that would break it.

And we know our bodies are much more fragile than that. Common sense must rule.

Walk, jog, jump rope, dance, pull on a rope, push on a wall, wring out a towel, and bend bones with weight lifting exercises. But do it safely. Do it in moderation. Stay in your comfort zone. Start with a comfortable amount and build up slowly over time. Take breaks between shorter intervals of training. Studies show that those break times may be when bones get stimulated to grow.

Studies also show that site-specific exercises are very effective. So, do exercises that involve the 3 areas most at risk for Osteoporotic fracture, the spine the hip and the wrist?

Walking loads your spine and your legs including the hip joints. Wrist curls and wringing a towel work your wrists and forearms.

Do any weight-training resistance exercises every other day because your muscles need time to recover. A starter routine might be 20 minutes or more of brisk walking every other day and weight resistance training on the days in between.

But make sure you talk to your doctor about your particular exercise needs and limitations.

They vary greatly from person to person.

So why not use Osteoporosis month to set an example for the women in your family of any age because it’s never too early or too late to start working out your bones.

To Read More On Osteoporosis:

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