If you missed our recent virtual coffee morning, or even if you joined us and want a re-cap, our Clinical Lead and Postural Stability Instructor Emma Rollings talked about bone health. Here is what she had to say;
Bone tissue is alive and constantly re-models, old bone tissue is broken down and new bone is built by specialist cells. As we age, a difference is these two processes occurs, creating an imbalance. This means our bone density decreases as we age from the age of just 35.
In some people this loss of bone density is more significant for a number of different reasons – After menopause, genetic and lifestyle factors – this is diagnosed as osteoporosis.
When bones lose density they become more fragile. Fragile bones are more likely to fracture on the impact of a fall. And a fracture can have devastating effects on our independence.
As we get older, whether we have osteoporosis or not, it’s important to do everything we can to maximise our bone health…
Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium into our body to form bone. We can get it from:
It’s incredibly difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, so our main source is sunlight. Sunlight on exposed skin forms vitamin D in our body.
During spring and summer in the UK, 10min once or twice a day from March-September is all you need to make enough vitamin D.
During the initial lockdown form March 2020 some may have found this difficult due to staying indoors. Public Health advice was to consider taking a vitamin D supplement – 10micrograms a day at times when you will not get that sun on your skin…
From September to March, in the UK, we can’t get our daily dose form the sun, so it really is worth considering a supplement to keep your bones healthy over winter.
Exercise for Healthy Bones
Exercise for stronger bones is key – Bones like movement! They react to loads and forces they experience and grow stronger. And the great news is, you are in control of this, so here are the things to consider including in your weekly healthy bones exercise routine:
Weight bearing/impact exercise
Your own body weight increases the load through your bones, so exercise where you are supporting your body through your legs or arms will improve your bone strength. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be “high impact” exercise like running and jumping – You can get the bone strengthening effect from moderate impact activities like brisk walking, stair climbing, dancing or even marching on the spot in the kitchen!
Bones are quick learners – Just 20minutes of moderate impact exercise a day is enough for a bone strengthening effect.
Bones like variety – Unfortunately bones get bored easily, they become less responsive if you do the same movement all the time. So vary the direction and speed of your movements and your bones will be stronger and happier. This could be as simple as stepping in different directions.
Muscle strengthening exercise can also increase bone strength– when the muscle pulls on the bone it is attached to, the bone building cells react. Adding load to the muscles with weights or resistance bands, will increase both muscle and bone strength. Include strengthening exercise 2-3 times a week.
Specific exercises to improve balance will reduce your risk of falls and fractures. These exercises should create a real balance challenge to your body to see improvements. If you do feel unsteady on your feet, I recommend including this type of exercise most days.
Exercise to improve your posture can improve your breathing, reduce back pain and – if you do have osteoporosis – result in fewer fractures. Sitting, standing and moving with better posture will make you feel more confident, create a sense of improved wellbeing and allow you to be more active.
Exercise programmes, like WellBalanced for Wellbeing, will work on all these essential elements to give you stronger healthier bones. Our team of experienced Postural Stability Instructors can also give you individual advice on the best exercises for you and how to do them correctly.
Bone health isn’t just for older people though. Your base level of bone strength, or your “Bone bank” forms in adolescence so tell your grandchildren to look after their bones now for stronger bones in the future!
For further information, The Royal Osteoporosis Society is an excellent source of information for all things bone health. They have a great website and free helpline if you need any further information: 0808 800 0035