It’s no secret that maintaining optimal bone health becomes even more important as we age.
As the years advance, our bones naturally become more fragile and susceptible to fractures. Properly managing bone strength and endurance through a combination of diet and exercise is crucial in fortifying them, ensuring longevity, and combating debilitating conditions such as osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis, a prevalent concern affecting a staggering 1.2 million Australians, often lurks silently as many remain unaware of its presence. This condition manifests when our bones shed minerals, notably calcium, at a faster rate than the body can replenish, resulting in a decline in bone density. Osteoporosis Australia emphasises that adopting a balanced diet and regular physical activity are pivotal measures in preventing this debilitating condition.
Key nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, naturally abundant in dairy products and eggs, play a fundamental role in preserving bone strength. Additionally, vitamin K2, found in meat, eggs, and dairy products, particularly in fermented items like cheese and yoghurt, has proven to decelerate bone weakening post-menopause and enhance the efficacy of osteoporosis medications.
Approaching World Osteoporosis Day on October 20, Starts at 60 sought insights from Nutrition and Exercise Scientist Kathleen Alleaume. She shared invaluable exercises designed to proactively ward off this disease, underscoring the significance of a holistic approach to bone health.
“There is a lot of information available about the importance of protecting your skeleton, but there is still clearly a need to do more to ensure people understand how they can safeguard their bones now, and into the future,” she said.
“While many are aware that calcium and vitamin D are key ingredients for building and preserving strong bones, vitamin K2^ also plays an important role in regulating calcium uptake from the arteries to the bones and is therefore essential for optimal bone and heart health support2.
“Coupled with this, it is crucial to incorporate regular movement into your day and focus on exercises that help to maintain strong bones.”
Alleaume’s top five exercises for over-60s to improve bone health include:
As the name suggests, weight bearing exercises are a group of activities that are performed while on your feet, meaning you bear your own body weight. Because of the weight-bearing force involved with these actions, it is arguably the best form of exercise for helping to preserve bone density and build bone strength. Jogging on the spot and aerobic dance are all great examples of weight bearing exercises.
Technically referred to as calisthenics, body weight exercises are a simple, cheap, and effective way to increase body strength and improve balance and flexibility. They don’t require machinery or extra equipment and involve movements such as pulling or pushing yourself up using only body weight for resistance. Examples include push-ups, chair dips, lunges, wall sits, or stair climbing.
Another term for exercises using an external force to stimulate muscle contraction, leading to increases in muscle size, strength, endurance, and tone. Resistance training is generally conducted through the use of equipment like dumbbells or resistance bands, which can be easily purchased from your local sporting goods store. These exercises are great at increasing bone mineral density, which is essential in preventing the decline in bone mass and ageing-associated diseases such as osteopenia (lower bone density) and osteoporosis (brittle bones). Other benefits include reduced risk of falls (via improved balance and flexibility) and preventing further muscle mass loss.
Isometric exercises help strengthen and tone muscles without joint or muscle movement and can be performed with or without added resistance. Some ideal exercises include planks, wall sits, glute bridges, or warrior poses. One of the great things about isometric training is that it takes minimal time and requires no equipment at all!
Many people turn to yoga or pilates as a way to exercise gently, reduce tension, and improve joint flexibility and balance. It can also help to improve muscle strength as some poses are held for a longer amount of time (similar to isometric training). The Navasana, Uttplutih, and Bakasana poses are perfect for maximising strength and flexibility.
In embracing these exercises and adopting a holistic approach to bone health, we pave the way for a life filled with vitality and strength, irrespective of our age. As World Osteoporosis Day approaches, let it serve as a reminder to nurture our bones, protect our well-being, and appreciate the countless joys of an active, fulfilling life. With the right knowledge and practices, we can ensure that our bones remain our reliable companions on this remarkable journey of life.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.