Do you know someone who has recently broken a bone? It's not fun. Once you break a bone you immediately realise how essential it is for performing every day activities.
We generally think about exercise and fitness as essential for maintaining our muscles, cardiovascular system and body weight. Exercise as a means of keeping your bones healthy may not spring to mind - but maybe it should! For most people, bone mass peaks during your 30s. Young women and men who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) than those who don't. They're generally also less at risk of developing osteoporosis - a common disease in Australia (especially among women) that affects over one million people. This disease makes bones brittle and causes them to break much more easily than normal bone.
Bone tissue is amazing – like muscle, it becomes stronger in response to exercise. Exercise is recognised as one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to help make bones as strong as possible - the catch is that exercise must be regular (at least three times per week) and ongoing to have a meaningful benefit.
When our muscles pull on our bones through exercise, bone tissue becomes stronger through increased deposition of mineral salts and production of collagen fibres by osteoblasts.
So how can you ensure you have strong, healthy bones?
THE RIGHT KIND OF EXERCISE
When it comes to bone health, not all types of exercise are equal. Bone strength depends on the specific way that stress is applied to the bone during the exercise (so although swimming and cycling are great for our cardio health, they're not so great for bone strength). The best kinds of exercise to keep your bones strong are weight-bearing aerobic activity and strength or resistance training.
WEIGHT-BEARING AEROBIC ACTIVITY (EXERCISE WHILE DONE ON YOUR FEET)
This includes both low impact and high impact activities such as Barre, HIIT, brisk walking, running, aerobics, tennis and dance, which all help to build and retain bone mass. Swimming and cycling, although great activities for general health and fitness, are not good forms of exercise to promote bone strength, as they are non-weight bearing.
RESISTANCE TRAINING (STRENGTH TRAINING)
This includes any exercise where the muscles have to work hard to overcome a resistance such as your body weight (as in a push-up) or a weight (such as a biceps curl with hand weights). Strength training has been shown to significantly increase bone density and reverse the effects of bone degeneration associated with aging.
Core Candy Barre,HIIT and Pilates Springboard classes all include resistance training.
For strong bones, we need to consume Vitamins A, C and D, Calcium and Phosphorus.
Calcium intake is so important! Your calcium levels in your bones are not fixed so a drop in calcium in the body’s fluids causes the breakdown of mineral salts and the release of calcium from the bone.
IDEAS FOR FOODS HIGH IN CALCIUM
Dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese); broccoli; dark, leafy greens; edamame; figs; oranges; sardines; canned salmon; white beans; nuts and seeds; tofu…and hold the salt (it can negatively affect bone strength)!