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Bone Density: Exercise Matters.

Did you know that most people hit their peak bone density at 30 years old!😳 After that you do continue to remodel bone but you loose slightly more than you gain! This is why exercise in children and young adults is so important and the worrying trend of inactivity in young people is building up a problem for their future life.

Bone Density as a child

As you grow during the first 30 years or so of life, you are building bone at a much faster rate than you break it down. Load bearing exercise helps you to build bone mass, so whether that is you physically jumping up and down, such as in trampolining, or just using your muscles in a more aerobic activity, such swimming. As the muscles tug on their attachment point, the bone, they cause the bone to remodel to cope with the forces the muscle is creating. As a result it will build more bone. Tennis players are known to have greater bone mass in their racket arm, for example, as the bone toughens up to cope with the forces exerted on it. This means that the more bone you can build at this time, the more bone density you will have for your older years.

So if your child predominately sits and plays computer games, as ours does!, try to get them onto the trampoline once a day, or bouncing around the house. That annoying jumping off the sofa, is actually great for increasing their bone density… (sorry).

Building bone density in early adult hood

Once we are no longer a child, what can we do to build our bone density. Well any load bearing exercise will still help to build those bones. Many of us think about running as good for the bones, and it is. A lot of force goes through your lower body when running, helping to build bone. But if you enjoy swimming, the tugging of the muscles as they contract, will also help to build bone. Racket sports, Climbing, Kayaking, Dancing literally any activity works.

If you have a physical job, this can also help to create great bone density. Builders are an obvious industry, but Gardeners, who lift power tools are another great candidate. Sadly, for most of us, sitting at a desk won’t help. So try to find yourself a physical hobby, that will overload your muscles, and keep building that bone density.

Middle age and bone density

If you are now in your 40’s bone remodelling is changing, especially for women, but it does change for men as well. This is the age group who find it the most challenging to exercise. Young families, heavy work commitments and little disposable income, leave this age group unable to find as much time to exercise. But fear not, you are still able to build bone at any age and anything you do, even if that is just once a week, helps to stop a decline in bone mass. So, go for a walk, a jog, a swim or a cycle and keep your bones healthy.

The menopause, in women, lowers their Oestrogen and Testosterone which isn’t great for bone heath. It is therefore even more important for women to try and keep exercising in middle age. We don’t need to be excessively heavy with our exercise, or overly intense, as long as you are overloading the body in some way, bone will stay in a good state.

Our older years, is all lost?

Absolutley not! Although bone remodeling means we break bone down at a faster rate than we do when younger, this doesn’t mean we can’t lay down more bone. Slowly the bone density will lower, but this will happen much more slowly if we are encouraging the bone to build through exercise. The more bone mass you start with, the less likely you are to struggle with Osteoporosis in later life.

“Frailty” has become a buss word in recent years, referring to the elderly and their predisposition to trips and falls, leading to broken bones. As a result Sports Science research has focussed around what strength work can do for older adults. The great news is that the more you strength train, the less likely you are to become frail, put on weight and fall over! So the big message is to start doing something with weights that overloads you. That could be using a band in your living room, or trying a body pump class at the gym. Anything goes, as long as you are overloading your body.

It doesn’t matter where you are starting from, if you struggle to walk, try to walk a little further every day; walking creates strength. Once you can walk a good distance, maybe add an ankle weight. Your body now needs to work harder, so it has to adapt and get stronger.

If you are struggling to strengthen your legs and getting out of the chair, or up the stairs is hard. Try to sit and stand from a stool, which is higher, without using your hands to assist. Then slowly work down to a dining room chair, and finally a sofa. If you already do this, don’t be tempted to start letting your hands push you up from the sofa… maintain your strength.

Remember any exercise at any age will l help forces tug on your bone and encourage bone strengthening. It is never too late or too early to start. 👍 So next time your young child is being annoying bouncing around, have a thought as to whether you really want to stop them. If you were considering a chair that helps you stand up, have a second thought about whether that is a good solution. Happy, jumping, bouncing and jumping!

To learn more about Osteoperosis, take a look at this NHS Website page: Click here.

If you need help to build yourself a strength training program, whatever age you are, get in touch and we will prepare a bespoke program for you.