Smutty Fitness: Bone fitness
Not sure if you have covered this before, but I'm interested in some exercises for bone health that would cater to somebody who hasn't exercised for a while and would need to start at the VERY beginner level. I had a bone density test with some worrying results for my age (mid-30's). While I am having follow up with specialists to figure out next steps, it seems weight bearing exercises are definitely in order. Where to start? Any ideas welcomed!
As we age, it is common for us to start to experience a decrease in our bone mass. Without getting too much into the science of it, the cells that help our bodies rid of us old bone are more prevalent and working harder than the cells that help us build new bone. (There is a lot of science behind this and if you would like more information or feel like you may be at risk for osteoporosis I suggest you see your family doctor.) We only have so much time to build as much healthy bone as we can (which is called our peak bone mass) and after that all we can do is try and keep the bone we have as healthy as possible. You are not alone in your discovery of your low bone mass, as it is common for this to occur in our 30s. Do not fret though because there is lots you can do in your life, such as improve your diet and fitness, that will help your bones become strong again. As I am not a dietician I suggest you speak with one regarding calcium supplementation into your diet, but I can help you with exercise.
Weight bearing exercises are most important here, and you should start yourself on a moderate exercise routine which includes primarily weight bearing exercises. (These are exercises that require you to move your body against gravity – cycling and swimming are not considered weight bearing exercises.) Since you are starting from the beginning level I would start with a walking program. Begin with 3-5 walks a week where you are walking between 30 and 50 minutes. As you become stronger start to increase your speed and your distance, as well as the terrain you are walking. You could try adding in light hikes to help build your leg strength as your fitness improves.
You are also going to want to add in strength training and flexibility to your daily routine. As there is a lot to consider when dealing with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis, I suggest you seek the advice of a professional. Find a yoga or Pilates instructor who is well trained in this condition to help design a program for you to do regularly and continue to progress the intensity of the program as you become stronger. You are also going to want to start strength training, but again, because of your low bone mass, you need to be careful with certain exercises like loaded squats, pushups, and anything that is overhead or loads your spine. A physiotherapist or personal trainer who has the credentials to deal with low bone mass would be someone I would suggest to book a session or two with, to make sure you are doing things properly and you limit your risk of injury.
Balance and coordination is also important, so I suggest looking into a low impact aerobics class or zumba class. Not only are these classes fun, but they will help with your coordination, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. They are also considered weight bearing so they will help your body rebuild its bone mass.
Start small and build from there. Moving is important so walk when you can, take the stairs when possible, and continue to challenge yourself to make sure you are continuing to rebuild your bone density.