Learn about Exercise & Bone Health
Exercise & Bone Health
Why hire a Personal Trainer?
Why do you need to exercise? You need exercise to maintain ideal health and better develop physical strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and lose body fat or maintain ideal body composition. Exercise can also help you manage stress, and improve balance, agility, and coordination. More to the point of today’s effort — exercise is a proven practice responsible for maintaining and improving bone density and bone health as we age. Exercise physiologists, exercise researchers, exercise professionals and personal trainers, who specialize in developing exercise protocols and delivering sound exercise advice, maintain that the benefits of exercise specifically related to bone density define one of the strongest arguments in favor of regular exercise.
What role do bones play in health?
In order to understand the benefits of exercise related to bone density and bone health, it is important to first understand the nature, composition, and characteristics of your bones. Think about what functions your bones serve. Essentially the bones in your body have mechanical, synthetic, and metabolic functions. Mechanically, your bones, specifically, your skeletal system, protect your organs, provide a functional framework to support your body, and provide the essential structures necessary for movement by leverage from attached connective tissues and joints, and contraction by skeletal muscles. Additionally, small bones in the inner ear allow you to hear by mechanical means of vibration as these bones capture sound waves. These are the mechanical functions of your bones.
The National Library of Medicine defines bone marrow as the soft, sponge-like tissue in the center of bones that produces white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Perhaps most interesting, the larger bones in your body contain bone marrow. As described, bone marrow is responsible for producing blood cells. This action is a synthetic process called hematopoiesis, the production of all types of blood cells including formation, development, and differentiation of blood cells. Adults have, on average, about 5.7lbs of bone marrow, with about half of it being red. This is the primary synthetic function of your bones.
Metabolic functions of your bones primarily involve the regulation of calcium flow in and out of bones, called calcium homeostasis. The balance of calcium and phosphate release of calcium, or absorption of calcium, by bone is controlled by hormones. Normal bone metabolism is the complex sequence of bone turnover (osteoclastogenesis) and bone formation (osteoblastogenesis). This is an important concept to understand because inadequate calcium levels in your bones can result in osteoporosis. This is the primary metabolic function of your bones.
How is bone density measured?
Bone density, or bone mineral density, can be measured with a diagnostic test called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or DXA. According to the National Institutes of Health, Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the World Health Organization, this test is used to estimate a value of bone mineral density and scored in comparison to an established norm, the bone mineral density of a 30 year old adult. The score established by DXA testing is called a T-score. The World Health Organization defines bone density levels, or bone health, in an expression termed standard deviation (SD), ranging from 0, +1, and -1, meaning apparently normal, to lower negative values expressed as negative numbers ranging from -1 to -2.5(SD), meaning low bone mass, -2.5 and lower indicates osteoporosis, and negative values much lower than -2.5SD indicate severe osteoporosis. In addition to the standard deviation score defined by T-score, another score more closely relates to bone mineral density as compared between people of the same age. This score is useful because using the T-score, as compared by a 30-year-old adult, doesn’t reflect the average normal bone mineral density among older adults. DXA testing remains the same, however, this adjusted score is called Z-score.
How does nutrition and exercise affect bone and spine health?
This leads us to the role of proper nutrition in conjunction with exercise as determinants affecting ideal bone density and bone health. The body cannot produce calcium on its own. As a result, this mineral must be consumed in the foods and beverages you eat and drink. Good sources of calcium include dairy foods, dark in color green leafy vegetables, almonds, and foods that have added calcium during processing such as some bread and cereals, juices, and other beverages. In addition to calcium, D and K2 vitamins, omega-3 fat, and magnesium are necessary nutrients to consume to maintain strong bones. Vitamin D plays a role in the absorption of calcium which helps maintain bone health.
Proper nutrition alone isn’t enough to sustain ideal bone density and bone health. Weight-bearing exercise and physical activity play a large role in keeping your bones strong. In addition to weight-bearing exercise and physical activity, there are many exercises people can perform to maintain or improve bone health. These exercises are designed to improve posture, help you to maintain or improve balance and coordination, prevent and recover from falling, strengthen the spine, and help you to maintain proper spine and bone alignment. Exercise modalities including multi-joint, weight-bearing exercises, such as sitting and staining in repetition or squats, resistance added squats with resistance bands or free-weights, lunges, kettlebell swings, walking or running, running and ball sports, hiking and climbing, all with or without an external load (weights), as well as many specialized exercise movement patterns developed and instructed by your personal trainer.
The reason exercise is important to successful bone health is that bone is a living tissue that responds well to the stimulus of weight-bearing exercise. As you grow older you simply lose bone mass. Your bones can become weak, less dense, and fragile. This is known as osteoporosis. As mentioned earlier, osteoporosis can occur as a result of hormonal changes, for example, in women during menopause, or as a result of natural aging in men or women. If you develop osteoporosis you can become more likely to suffer a bone fracture, and other bone injuries, as a result of falling. Mature men and women, seniors, often incur this type of injury as a result of falling. Fall prevention strategy for older people should include weight-bearing exercise and enhanced whole foods and high vegetable and fruits nutrition. If you exercise your bone simply responds to proper stress and becomes stronger, your bone literally adapts to appropriate applied stress over time, with proper exercise and becomes denser.
It is essential that children participate in weight-bearing activities and exercise early in life to maintain and improve both muscular strength and bone strength. The types of physical activities and exercise, as described above, should be a part of every capable child’s day. It is advised that children exercise or play (in weight-bearing exercises or games) at least 60 minutes every day. For adults of all ages, it is essential to get at least 30 minutes a day, every day, of weight-bearing exercise. Exercise, as described above, can help you maintain a healthy body and maintain bone density and bone health. Perhaps this article helped you by illustrating how vital the roles bones play in your health, movement, and survival. Now — go for a walk or speak with a personal trainer about creating an exercise program for bone health!
Bone Health: Hip Fracture Statistics
Hip Fractures Among Older Adults 
Hip fractures caused by falling
Patients reported that they had fallen directly to the side
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