“Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~ Edward StanleyA recent Canadian study has found out that you may be able to strengthen your bones and cancel that expensive gym membership – at the same time! Because the key to increasing your bone density doesn’t rely necessarily on doing weights, as was previously thought. It’s also the simple things in life, like housework and walking that will help you avoid crippling osteoporosis, infamously known as ‘The Silent Killer’. A new study from McMaster University in Canada examined the possible link between bone mineral density and regular physical activity in a group of 1,169 Canadian woman aged 75 and older. Moderate exercise (walking, household chores) for at least 4 hours per week was done by 72 percent of the women. This led to a “significant increase” in bone density, compared to those who reported doing 2-3 hours a week of the same activities.(1) The biggest bone density increases occurred in the hip area (an increase of 0.08 grams per cm3). This may be the most encouraging data from the study, as hip fractures (due to osteoporosis) lead to being bedridden for months, which allows a range of other problems to get a foothold. Deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and pneumonia are just three complications that are known to arise from osteo induced hip fractures. In fact 13% of those who suffer a painful osteo related hip fracture will die within 6 months from these complications. And within a year that number climbs to 25%! (2)
For Your Bones, It’s Worth The WeightIncorporating weight bearing exercise into one’s daily routine is a mandatory step to ward off osteoporosis. This is because our bodies direct energy towards bone growth stimulation – If the bones are put under physical stress. Somehow, there is a recognition by your body’s headquarters that your bones (and muscles) are being called to duty, so energy and resources are directed to bone growth – in anticipation of more future duty. This flip side of this effect is most easily observed with astronauts. Due to the weightlessness of space, their bones and muscles are essentially on holiday. In zero gravity conditions the body is being told the bones are not needed for much. In space Neil Armstrong won over the hearts and minds of the world, but doing so he lost bone density 15 times faster than when on earth!(3)
“Houston, We Have A (Bone Density) Problem”Though they are heroes, astronauts are carried by others once back on terra firma for different reasons than the winning quarterback is carried off the field. It’s because the inactivity from zero gravity has so weakened their bone and muscle they cannot walk! Doctors know this and that is why they always recommend vigorous physical exertion to ward off osteoporosis. However, it’s believed that many seniors still put their bones in jeopardy because going to the gym to lift weights is a task that is easy to procrastinate.
Motion is LotionAccording to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, Medical Advisory Board Member of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association, this latest study showing that mundane tasks help is so encouraging because…
“simple forms of exercise, and not the heavy workouts and weight lifting previously recommended, gives you a fighting chance to increase your bone density and bone health…a relief for many.”You are not alone if you find it kind of pointless to go to a gym and lift a weight up and down, up and down. It’s common to feel by the end of it all, what was accomplished? However, common activities like walking are easy to incorporate because there is a purpose (you need to get somewhere); you get to sightsee as you go (unlike being in a gym); you save money (by forgoing a car or a bus) and you reduce your carbon footprint. You are winning on several levels! And happily, walking, and doing routine household activities, though not normally enjoyable, should now be viewed (thanks to the above study) as your own personal osteoporosis buster! So if you find yourself grudgingly gardening, vacuuming, or running up and down the stairs doing chores, remember you are strengthening your bones as you make your personal domain that much more livable. But the greatest reward is that you will simply feel physically better.