Exercise and the Bones

OSTEOPOROSIS

Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease that develops gradually and makes bones fragile and susceptible to fracture. This affects mainly women as they begin to lose bone density after the age of 30.
One in three women and one in twelve men over the age of 50 develop fragile bones, which makes them more susceptible to osteoporosis.

Says Dr Jukar, surgeon and fitness consultant, “Weight bearing exercises can improve calcium deposition in the 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 arthritis; osteoporosis and back pain can be reduced or prevented with regular exercise.”

WHAT KIND OF EXERCISE STRENGTHENS BONES?

The two types of exercise that help 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 YOU EXERCISE, 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 amenorrhea, 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 the 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 handle the impact of the game with ease.

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 also stimulate bone formation and improve balance and coordination to reduce the risk of falls or injuries.

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. Without adequate vitamin D, you will be unable to absorb calcium from the foods you eat. 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 yoghurt (hung)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 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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