“Bone-Exercising is important to instate vigour and vitality at all ages”
Physical fitness matters at every age. And the vitality comes with robust bone strength. Bones protect our vital organs, store minerals and bone marrow help in making blood cells. But, the bone density starts decreasing as we grow old, resulting in weak and fragile bones.
Unhealthy/weak bones are prone to fractures; result in a lack of bodily manoeuvres and mobility to do daily activities. Rather than spending exorbitant money on surgeries, it’s better to stay proactive and take care of our bones.
Dr. N.K. Aggarwal, the best Orthopaedic Surgeon of Punjab, is a strong advocate for bone-exercising. He says, “Use it or lose it”. Bone-Exercising is important to instate vigour and vitality at all ages. We inevitably need a robust skeletal-framework for perfect coordination, balance and overall health.
How Exercise helps in Improving Bone Health?
Akin to other organs and tissues, bone is also a living tissue. It changes continuously in response to the weight/force placed on it. The bone adapts to the external pressures by producing more cells, thereby becoming denser. Exercising makes the bones stronger and increases bone density as well.
The bones in our bodies undergo a remodeling process throughout our life. In this lifelong process, a mature bone gets replaced by a new bone. Osteoclasts (bone cells) are responsible for the resorption (removing an old bone). The ossification (building a new bone) is done by other bone cells called osteoblasts.
Till the age of 18-20, the ossification is much faster than resorption. Humans tend to have more bone mass until this age. After we enter our 20’s, the processes see a shift and we tend to lose bone-mass much faster than it is created.
When we exercise, it stimulates the bone-building actions of the osteoblasts cells proactively. The entire remodeling process gets a boost when the bones are stressed and exercised regularly.
Who Should Exercise?
It’s extremely sad that many parents in today’s time and age still believe that exercises are not meant for children.
This is far from being the case. In truth, exercises should be done by every age-group. In fact, for a healthier tomorrow, children should be encouraged to adapt to a habit of daily exercise. Our skeletal system is rapidly strengthening bones and building bone-density to a maximum during adolescence/childhood period.
Exercise has a deep and n-times favourable effect at this time. It helps to maximize bone density and instate bone vitality as we age. Use your bones to its maximum power else you’ll lose them!
What Types of Exercises are good for Bones?
Along with nutrition (calcium and vitamin D), you need to exercise in order to have healthy bones even when you grow older. Dr. Aggarwal, an adroit Orthopaedic surgeon, says “For the vitality of the bones, go for weight-bearing and resistance exercise regimen rather than following a low-impact workout”.
Swimming and cycling are excellent aerobic exercises but these don’t contribute anything to your bone strength. Go for exercises such as running, walking, Zumba, playing tennis, jumping rope, etc.
- Weight-Bearing Exercises
Just as the name says, these exercises include placing weight on the bones to give them strength and to reinstate their strength. Walking and jogging are the best weight-bearing exercises.
Any activity done on feet where muscles and gravity both stress the bones is a weight-bearing exercise.
You can even hold lightweight objects such as water bottles, books, etc while walking to amp up the stress on bones. In fact, high impact house-hold chores also add to your bone strength. Have a look at some examples of weight-bearing exercises.
- Brisk walking, jogging/ running
- Stair climbing
- Jumping (rope)
- Playing sports such as tennis, soccer, cricket, etc
Your bones are stressed when your legs and feet carry the bodyweight which ultimately makes them harder and stronger. But, people having injuries, or who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disorders or thinning of bones, should follow a regimen prescribed by an Orthopedician.
- Resistance Exercises
Resistance exercises are better known as strength-training exercises. Here some resistance is added to the normal manoeuvres to make muscles and bones work harder. This, in turn, strengthens the bones significantly.
The muscle fibers exert a pull on the bones when they contract. This nudges the bone cells into action, thereby making the bones more vigorous. Legs, trunk, back and arms are the major workout areas. “Including back-strengthening exercises improves your posture as well as keeps your spine healthy”, says Dr. N.K. Aggarwal.
Challenge your muscles with these resistance exercises:
- Elastic tubing
- Using weight machines
- Using free weights
- Bodyweight exercise such as push-ups
These exercises not only improve the muscle mass but strengthens the bones and stimulates the bone remodeling process. If you are suffering from osteoporosis or are diagnosed with low bone density, then avoid resistance exercises.
Such patients should avoid twisting, bending, turning or exerting pressure on areas especially joints and spine that are prone to fractures. They can perform yoga or other stretching exercises that help target their main muscle groups.
What is an Ideal Regime for Bone Health Program?
As per Dr. Aggarwal, for a healthy person, weight-bearing exercises should be done for at least 30 minutes a day. It can be done 3-4 times a week. The best way is to choose an activity that interests you or motivates you to continue.
Due to our busy lives and pre-occupied schedules, these activities can even be performed in small bursts. 10-minute walking can be done three times a day. Try to opt for stairs in your work area or home rather than lift. If your workplace is nearby, prefer walking.
For every weight-bearing exercise, begin from a low-level and gradually increase the intensity and duration.
For resistance exercises, it is advisable to perform the activity twice or thrice a day. Take a gap if at least one day between two strength training sessions to restore the muscles. Begin and end every session with stretching exercises to maximize the benefits.
This adds flexibility to the body and reduces any risk of injury. Begin with low weights and minimum repetitions. Increase not more than 10% of weight every week.
But, do not follow extreme regimes. It would lead to decreased bone density and increase the chances of fracture due to excessive stress on bones. You need to give time to your bones to rest and rebuild. Over-exercising wears down your bones really quick.
Anything else required for building great bones?
Apart from a great exercising routine, a healthy and nutritious diet rich in calcium and vitamin-D is essential. According to Dr. Aggarwal, children and pre-pubescents need at least 1200-1500 mg of daily calcium intake. For adults, the intake should be between 1000 to 1200 mg every day.
We all know sources of calcium- dairy products, tofu, shellfish, almonds, bread, cereals, citrus fruits and green and leafy vegetables. If the daily dose of calcium is not being met, then calcium supplements can be taken.
Say no to alcohol and smoking, as these are significantly responsible for the weakening of bones. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin-D. Supplements for vitamin-D are also available but should be taken only if recommended by your doctor.
If you are facing bone-density loss, then exercise and good nutrition are just one element of the program. There may be several other reasons for the decreasing bone mass such as genetic disorders, on-set of osteoporosis, family history, etc.
Also, if you are experiencing swollen joints, severe pain or limping, consult Dr. N.K. Aggarwal today for an appropriate result-driven bone-building regime. Dr. N.K. Aggarwal, the chief consultant at Joints & Spine Centre, Ludhiana is an undisputable name in Punjab for Orthopaedic surgeries.
Take care of your bones; they will do the same when you grow old!