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Healthy Bones and the management of Osteoporosis with Exercises

Weight exercises for bone health

In our body, bones are as alive as the rest of our bodies, they grow, they live and change during our life. They are important units of the machine that is our body enabling us to move in the way we want. However, they are too often forgotten about.


In this article we will talk about the intricate relationship between exercises, bone health and osteoporosis. Let's first define what is it that we are talking about: Osteoporosis.



 About Bone Health


Diet and exercise is what aids bone health. The lines of stress in bone are normally well-demarcated. When you land from a jump the pressure is transmitted through your skeleton in predictable ways. Your body responds to these lines of stress logically by strengthening the bones in these areas.


Collagen is found everywhere in the body; it is in fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments, arteries, forms connective tissue within organs, and gives bones their strength. Collagen is not only the substance that glues the body together, additionally gives strength - per weight it is as strong as steel! As well as tensile strength, collagen also has electrical properties, this is called piezoelectricity. Think of a lighter, the spark is created by deforming tiny quartz crystals causing an electric charge.


You bone has two types of strength, both hard and incompressible yet it has tensile strength, it can be flexed. It is made of hydroxyapatite crystals made of calcium and phosphate and collagen. The hydroyapatite crystals make the bone hard and white, and makes the collagen stiff but the collagen gives strength and piezoelectric current.


The importance of the piezoelectric effect in bone is still being worked out. But we know that it is the orientation of the collagen fibres that stimulates the bone growth.1,2 As well the tiny electrical currents made by the deformation of the collagen stimulates the bone cells to lay down more bone in that area.3.


So how does this work? You jump, you land and the bones subtly flex to absorb the shock. This is felt through the whole bone but the areas under the most stress bend the most causing an electrical charge. This charge is detected by the bone cells (osteoblasts) and they start laying down new crystals onto the collagen fibres. The result is that area becomes harder and less flexible and the bone is stronger exactly where it needs to be.

This piezoelectric effect has been exploited by the development of bone-healing machines.


This process happens constantly, when this force is removed you loose bone mass. Time in space with no regular tensile stress placed on your bones the collagen stops producing electricity. A year in space even for a strong ultra-fit soldier and their bones become like geriatrics, astronauts loose at least 1% of bone per month.4


Osteoporosis 

The etymology of the word osteoporosis comes from the English, Osteo- meaning bone; the Greek -Poros meaning passage; and -Osis meaning denoting a process or condition. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is characterised by the changes in the structure of your bone. 

Essentially, the bone demolition workers break down more bone than what the bone builders build, this leads to more brittle and fragile bones​​. This can lead to higher risks of fractures with things that could be seen as non-threatening, like tripping and falling on the ground. All ages, women and men can be affected by this disease, even though there is a higher risk of developing osteoporosis the more we age.  


How Exercise Impacts Osteoporosis

Bone Density

Exercise helps maintain or even increase bone density by stimulating bone-forming cells (bone builders) and reducing bone loss. Essentially the body is like clay and it will transform itself to whatever it needs to be. Same thing with bone density.


Muscle Strength 

Strong muscles support bones and act as protectors of your bones. With stronger bones, you have a lower chance of falls and injuries, hence lowering the risk of fractures.


Improved Balance and Coordination

Exercises that challenge balance and coordination also prevent falls. Missing a step in the stairs, walking on wet surfaces or going up to the letter box and back are all examples of normal day to day stuff that needs to be safe. Do it with progressive exercising of balance and coordination! 


Types of Exercises Beneficial for Osteoporosis


Weight-Bearing Exercises

Walking with weights

Walking is a simple yet effective weight-bearing exercise that can be done almost anywhere. Taking some time to be in the sun, walking the dog, getting some fresh air, every reason is good to get outside for a walk.

Other simple exercises are dancing and stair climbing. Both of them increase your balance and strengthen the right muscle that will decrease your chance of having a falling accident 


Strength Training

Firstly, resistance band exercises can be an excellent choice for individuals with osteoporosis because they provide a safe and effective way to strengthen muscles and bones without putting excessive stress on joints. Specific exercises such as our springforme pilates are great for that strengthening our bodies.

Movement classes

Secondly, incorporating free weight exercises into a fitness routine for individuals with osteoporosis can be beneficial for strengthening muscles and bones, but it requires careful consideration and supervision. When working with free weights, it's essential to start with light weights and focus on proper form to minimise the risk of fractures or injuries. Exercises such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, and squats can help strengthen muscles around the bones, promoting better bone density and reducing the risk of falls.



Flexibility and Balance Exercises - fall prevention

Yoga and Tai Chi can be beneficial form for individuals with osteoporosis, helping to improve flexibility, balance, and strength without putting excessive strain on bones. 

Yoga at home

Firstly, gentle yoga poses that focus on gentle stretching, balance, and proper alignment, such as Cat-Cow pose, Tree pose, and Warrior pose variations, can help strengthen muscles, improve posture, and enhance bone health.


Tai chi for fall prevention

Secondly, the slow and flowing movements of Tai chi help enhance muscle tone and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and fractures. Practising tai chi regularly can also promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can positively impact overall bone health. It's important for osteoporosis patients to learn tai chi from a qualified instructor who can adapt movements to accommodate any physical limitations or concerns. Tai chi is a fantastic exercise for any level. You can even do certain tai chi exercises in a walker or seated on a chair.



Additional Lifestyle Factors for Bone Health


Nutrition

Nutrition plays a vital role in supporting bone health. Adequate intake of minerals is very important. Calcium has always been discussed in Western medicine for bone health, but it is more a complex mix of all minerals that allow the absorption of calcium.


Vitamin D has always been discussed as a necessity for calcium utilisation but we often overlook Magnesium. A study was done where calcium and vitamin D were abundantly supplied while Magnesium withheld; results all subjects except one became calcium deficient. When Magnesium was reintroduced the calcium levels rose dramatically.5


Magnesium stimulates calcitonin which is a hormone that keeps the calcium in the bones and stops it from being in the soft tissues. Many forms of arthritis present excessive calcium in soft tissues while skeletal calcium is reduced.6


Foods good for calcium, magnesium and vitamin D for bone health

  • dried seaweeds; Jijiki, wakame, kelp, kombu

  • beans; Garbanzo beans

  • whole grains; Dried wheat grass, barley grass, quinoa

  • nuts and seeds - sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds

  • high-chlorophyll foods - spirulina, watercress, kale, parsley

  • Milk and yoghurt

  • Salmon, halibut, chicken, ground beef, mackerel


Avoid Calcium inhibitors
  • Coffee, soft drinks and diuretics.

  • Alcohol consumption, cigarettes, marijuana and other intoxicants.

  • Too much refined sugar or any concentrated sweeteners.

  • Too much or too little exercise

  • Excess salt

  • Some Solanum genus vegetables. Tomatoes in particular but also potatoes, eggplant and bell peppers.


Times of increased calcium requirements
  • During periods of growth - childhood and adolescence, during pregnancy and lactation, during rapid mental/spiritual growth.

  • With age - as we age we assimilate less calcium, women have greater needs post menopause.

  • In the presence of - heart and vascular disease including hypertension, bone disorders including osteoporosis, arthritis, tooth and gum problems

  • Most nervous system disorders.


Also note when calcium is deficient other minerals are out of balance.6

Please see the produce we sell Mineral Essentials by metagenics.


Exercise

Exercise plays a crucial role in building and maintaining strong bones, which are essential for preventing and managing osteoporosis. By incorporating weight-bearing, strength training, balance, and flexibility exercises into a routine, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of fractures and improve overall bone health. Remember to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have osteoporosis or other health concerns. With the right approach to exercise and lifestyle modifications, individuals can strengthen their bones and enhance their quality of life as they age.


Precautions and Considerations

A healthcare professional, such as a primary care physician, orthopaedic specialist, or physical therapist, can assess your overall health and bone density, provide personalised recommendations, and offer guidance on safe and appropriate exercises. They can help design an exercise program that focuses on improving bone strength, balance, and flexibility while minimising the risk of falls or fractures.


Additionally, they can advise on proper techniques, modifications, and precautions to ensure that your exercise routine supports your bone health and overall well-being.

Regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider can also help monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments to your exercise program over time. By taking these proactive steps, you can safely and effectively incorporate exercise into your lifestyle to manage osteoporosis and maintain optimal bone health.





References

  1. Fernandez, J.R., Carcia-Aznar, J.M. and Martinez, R. (2012) 'Piezoelectricty could predict sites of formation/reabsorption in bone remodelling and modelling.' J. Theor. Biol. 292, 86-92.

2. Ferrier, J., Ross, S.M., Kanehisa J. and Aubin, J.E. (1986) 'Osteoclasts and osteoblasts migrate in opposite directions in response to constant electrical field.' J. Cell Physiol. 129, 3, 283-288.

3. Hartig, M., Joos, U. and Wiesmann, H.P. (2000) 'Capacitively coupled electric filds accelerate proliferation of osteoblast-like promary cells and increase bone extracellular matrix formation in vitro.' Eur. Biophys. J. 29, 7, 499-506.

4. Keown, D,. (2014). The spark in the machine; How the science of acupuncture explains the mysteries of Western Medicine. Singing Dragon.

5. Regtop, H. Is magnesium the grossly neglected mineral? International Clinical Nutrition Review 3: pp18-19, July 1983.

6. Pitchford, P,. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed.) North Atlantic books.






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