Bones serve lots of purposes. They provide support for our entire body, protection to our organs, and storage space for minerals. Keeping them healthy is an important part of everyone’s life, especially as we get older. Our bodies go through several stages of bone and muscle development throughout our lifetime. From 18-24 bones are their strongest and most dense, from 25 to 35 our muscles are they strongest they’re going to get, at 35 we tend to lose half a pound of muscle and gain one and a half pounds of fat per year, and when we reach our sixties, we lose strength by 20 to 40 % every ten years. Menopause, with its loss of hormones, can increase the rate of bone density loss, and around that same age, both men and women’s bodies become less efficient at absorbing calcium for bone production. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help your bones stay strong for your entire lifetime.
Weight bearing exercise can help keep bones dense, and even increase bone density over time. Lifting weights, walking, water aerobics, and even running can cause positive adaptations in joints, strengthening and prolonging their pain free lifetimes. After you exercise your bones, stretching major muscle groups is important for many reasons, one of which is that stretching can keep ligaments, tendons, and muscles at their proper lengths. Stretching also maintains joint flexibility and helps lead to a lower risk of injury.
While you’re exercising and stretching you also want to avoid food that’s bad for your bones. Artificial sweeteners, soda, alcohol and table salt are all bad bones culprits because they bring the pH of blood down. These acidic foods alter the pH to a point at which your body uses calcium from bones to neutralize their effects, instead of using that calcium to build new bone cells. Smoking is another bad for bones activity for many reasons. Smokers have been shown to recover more slowly than non-smokers from ligament surgeries, produce bones more slowly, and have weaker spinal ligaments (low back pain). It’s also important that we drink in moderation. Increase alcohol consumption alters your balance and can lead to bone breaking falls, not to mention the bone crushing possibility of car accidents.
The ability to properly manage stress will help your bones stay strong, too. Cortisol regulates blood pressure and inflammatory responses; it also heightens memory functions and lowers sensitivity to pain. As a result of cortisol being released at times of stress and chronic stress can raise cortisol levels in your blood, extended periods of stress ultimately result in weakened bone matrices. Combat this by having quality stress management strategies and eating vitamin and mineral rich foods such as milk, eggs, sardines, salmon, spinach, orange juice, and tuna.
One more way to protect our bones, especially as we age, is to work on our balance. Better balance will make us less likely to fall, a major source of broken bones in older people. Practicing standing on one foot while brushing your teeth or making dinner are great ways to keep your balance in top shape because they force the body to be keenly aware of what’s going on around it.
For more information on a program to help your bones stay strong, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com!