Protect your bones with these Exercise moves

Did you know...80% of all fractures in the population over 50 are due to osteoporosis?
Reference: www.osteoporosis.ca

Just Do Some Exercise

A year and a half ago, I joined those statistics, when a slip and fall on ice left me with a broken wrist that required surgery. I was very lucky and had fantastic care at the Health Science and here at the clinic. ( Check my blog here )
The experience, however, has left me more protective of my own bones.

In doing my own research to build bone density, I have learned a few things that I am happy to share.

Diet is important.

Eating a balanced diet rich in calcium (1200 iu daily) and supplementing with vitamin D ( 800-2000 iu daily) is commonly recommended for those with low bone density. My experience working in the health industry has taught me that we all vary in our ability to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat and what is commonly prescribed might not be the right balance for each individual.

One of my first steps was to check out my own diet with our naturopathic MD, Dr. Laura Nurse. Following her recommendations, I have added more healthy fresh greens, protein in the form of chicken and salmon, fish oil, Vitamin K and daily calcium supplements to my diet.

I have learned that dairy products are not always my friends and to seek out alternate sources of calcium: almond milk, tinned fish and nuts. Each person is different and if building bone density is important to you, I would recommend that you book a personal consultation to rule out common causes of mal-absorption of nutrients.

Exercise is Essential

When it comes to building and maintaining bone density, high impact exercise that challenges the bones is necessary to stimulate bone growth. Some highly recommended kinds of exercise include:

Brisk walking or hiking: The fitbit pros recommend 10 000 steps daily Most sedentary people walk 1000-3000 on average each day. One would need to walk an additional 45 minutes to an hour each day to reach the goal of 10 000 steps. Hiking provides more impact than walking and challenges one's balance because of the uneven walking surfaces and hills.

Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates: These are all great full-body workouts that use one's own body weight and gravity to challenge the bones, muscles and balance. Improving and maintaining balance is very important as we age because it helps prevent falls. Healthy balance translates to a normal walking gait, the ability to climb stairs and to lift and bend without falling.

Dancing: this is my personal favourite and a great workout all around. Dancing develops balance, builds healthy bones and gives the brain a workout. The real bonus is the music and the upbeat people one meets along the way! Dancing offers joy in moving!

Weight training: Working with weight in the form of dumbbells, exercise bands, fitness balls at home or in the gym offers resistance to challenge the muscles and bones to build bone density. Be sure to get a program that works your full body. Working with a physiotherapist who knows your strengths and weaknesses is a safe way to get started.

Posture: This is not actually an exercise; but, as we age, the habits of a lifetime catch up with us. Many of us have ways of sitting, standing and walking that compromise healthy movements as we get older. With me, it is my neck, and I have learned to adjust it periodically as I work on the computer, drive long distances and read. If simple movements cause you pain, your resting posture may be part of your problem too.

What to do?

Personally, I aim for an hour or more of movement every day. I try to mix it up a little so that my body does not get used to the same activities. In addition to the hour of walking, (or dance), I try to attend a pilates class weekly and follow a home program of weight-training a couple of days a week. I also subscribe to an online program pilatesanytime.com that offers a great variety of workouts. I am busy. My work is sedentary; and finding creative ways to keep moving is important.

If the weather is inclement and I can't get outside, I use a rebounder at home. Think of a rebounder as a mini-trampoline with higher-quality springs and materials. Some say that 10 minutes jumping on a rebounder is equal to a 20-minute run. It is great for balance too!

It took a broken limb for me to take maintaining healthy bones seriously.