Strengthen your Bones

Exercise helps build strength and stamina and increases bone density. People who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from fractures or bone injuries – and ailments such as osteoporosis and back pain can be reduced or prevented with regular exercise.

Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease that develops gradually and makes bones fragile and susceptible to fracture. This especially affects for women as they begin to lose bone density after the age of 30.

Do you know?
1 in 3 women and 1 in 12 men over the age of 50 develop fragile bones, which makes them more susceptible to osteoporosis.

Weight bearing exercises can improve calcium deposition in the bones. Regular exercise reduces the occurrence of ailments such as osteoporosis.

What role does exercise play in building strong bones?
Exercise helps develop and maintain healthy bones. It builds strength and stamina and increases bone density.

The human skeleton comprises of 206 bones, which gives our body its framework. Bones also need calcium, which is their source of nourishment. The right kind of exercise can improve calcium absorption in the bones. This is why regular exercise results in greater bone density.

What kind of exercise strengthens bones?
The two types of exercise that helps strengthen bones are weight bearing and resistance training exercises.

Weight bearing exercises are those in which the bones and muscles work against gravity. Any exercise where the feet and legs bear the body’s weight while exercising is called a weight bearing exercise. Examples are walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, tennis, golf and soccer.

Resistance training exercises are those exercises that use resistance to strengthen the bone and muscles. Examples are weight-training exercises using machines, free weights or body weight.

Myths
1. The more exercise you do the stronger your bones will be.
Over exercise can cause wear and tear of bones and actually weaken the bones. In women, over exercising can lead to amenhorrea, a condition in which the number of yearly menstruation cycles decrease, leading to brittle and fragile bones.

2. Regular exercise alone is adequate to increase bone strength.
Bone strength depends on consistent weight bearing exercise in addition to regular intake of adequate calcium. Both these elements play a vital role in increasing bone density and strength.

3. You can never know when your bones gain strength.
Though you cannot see your bones becoming stronger, you will certainly realize the increase in strength of your bones when you exercise or play a game. For example, when you play a game of tennis you will realize the increase in bone strength when you can easily handle the impact of the game.

4. Weight bearing exercises are for those who are fit and athletic.
Weight bearing exercises are for all fitness levels and ages. A simple weight bearing exercise, such as walking is one of the best exercises for bone development.

5. All types of exercises help increase bone strength.

Weight bearing exercises are specifically recommended to improve bone strength. They not only improve calcium absorption in the bone but they also stimulate bone formation and improve balance and coordination to reduce the risk of falls or injuries.

Seven simple exercises to strengthen the bones (Do 2 sets of 12 reps)
Push-ups (works the chest and back)
Get into a push-up position; arms more than shoulder-width apart; back, hips and legs aligned. Bend elbows out to the side and lower the chest toward the floor. Press back up to starting position.

Bicep curls (works the biceps)
Sit or stand tall. Hold weights in your palms, bend your elbows slowly tensing the bicep muscles as you lift up, and then lower down,

Tricep dips (works the triceps)
With your back to a step or chair, position your heels in front of you. Grip the edge of the support and bend your arms so that you descend towards the floor, keeping your knees bent. Use your triceps to push back up to starting position.

Calf lifts (works the calf)
Stand with your heels off the edge of a step or a bench. Now, slowly raise yourself up on your toes (tensing your calf muscle) and then lower down.

Butt Bridge (works the hips and thighs)
Lie on your back with feet on the floor, and your knees bent shoulder-width apart. Raise your pelvis and squeeze your hips as you lift up. Slowly return to starting position.

Abdominal crunch (works the abs)
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck. Lifting shoulders off the floor contracting your abs and slowly lower.

Alternate arm and leg raise (works the back)
Lie on your stomach on the mat. Raise your left hand and right leg, keeping them straight. Slowly return to starting position. Now, raise your right hand and left leg.

A word of caution:
Do this workout routine on alternate days. Especially while weight training, the muscles need at least 48 hours of rest in between workouts sessions to recover and recuperate.
Always check with your physician for specific exercise guidelines based on your medical history and current health status.

Food for the bones
Calcium
Inadequate calcium contributes to the development of brittle bones. Research shows that many women consume less than half the amount of calcium to maintain healthy bones. Depending on your age, an appropriate calcium intake falls between 1000 and 1200 mg per day.
Calcium-rich foods: Milk, yogurt, orange juice, cheese, sardines, oysters, green vegetables, beans and broccoli.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium. The early morning rays of the sun are gentle and will provide you the valuable vitamin D for healthy bones. However, exposure to the sun for long periods is not recommended. A daily intake of recommended intake of vitamin D is 1000 ug.
Foods containing vitamin D: Milk, egg yolk, tuna and salmon.

Bone strengthening recipes

Fruit milkshake (Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, B12, C, Potassium)
Serves: 2
Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
1 glass skimmed milk
1-cup mixed fruit (washed and cut)
1 tablespoon honey

Method
Blend in a blender.

Cottage cheese spread (Calcium, Vitamin A, B12, D, iron, magnesium, phosphorus)
Serves: 2
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup crumbled cottage cheese (low-fat)
2 tablespoons yogurt (hung)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/2 tablespoon chopped spring onions (option)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper

Method
Mix the ingredients. Spread on whole grain bread, crackers or use as a dip.

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