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Bone Up On Bone Health

Happy May and Happy Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month!

I know, I know. Osteoporosis awareness isn’t especially glamorous, and it can be easily overlooked as something that might happen someday to someone else. But I’d like to offer you this advice: NOW is when to think about your bone health. 

We’re all on a healthspan path, the length of time that we’re healthy—not just alive. The question to ask yourself is “Where am I headed from here? What’s my future trajectory?” The only way to set yourself on a better trajectory is to start thinking about it and taking action now. Today is the critical time to combat bone loss – as or even before it happens.  

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones, making them brittle and susceptible to fractures. Most at risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis are women over the age of 35 who have a smaller, thinner frame and have Caucasian or Asian ancestry, Other risk factors include a history of poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol consumption, thyroid disease, and certain medications that impair healthy bone turnover. Women lose a significant amount of estrogen around the time of menopause and in the handful of years after, which leads to big drops in bone mass. Though osteoporosis isn’t as common in men risk-factors include a family history of osteoporosis, reduced testosterone, chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, over-active thyroid, celiac disease, and other chronic gut conditions.

First some definitions. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are conditions that lead to a loss of bone mass and density, which can increase the risk of bones breaking. Both conditions affect the strength and health of your bones; the difference between the two lies in the level of bone damage. Osteopenia is basically less advanced osteoporosis. Bone mass and bone mineral density measure the amount of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus present in a set amount of bone. 

(Osteoarthritis (OA) is not about bone loss. OA is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis.)

Too often, the first sign that your bones are getting weaker is a break. But there are some symptoms to watch for including loss of height, stooped posture, and brittle nails. Once diagnosed, medications may be prescribed, but there are also strategies to prevent the disease or its progression. These include:

  • Getting enough vitamin D
  • Eating a calcium-rich diet
  • Reducing alcohol and stopping smoking
  • Staying active, especially with weight-bearing exercises

from Verywell Health

The Cleveland Clinic says: Regular exercise can strengthen your bones (and all the tissue connected to them, like your muscles, tendons and ligaments). Your provider might suggest weight-bearing exercise to strengthen your muscles and train your balance. Exercises that make your body work against gravity like walking, yoga, Pilates and tai chi can improve your strength and balance without putting too much stress on your bones.

In fact, this study shows that Pilates is effective in increasing bone mineral density, quality of life, and walking distance and also beneficial in relieving pain. That said, if you have been diagnosed with osteo, there are some exercises where you may ‘over flex’ your spine if you push yourself too hard. Pilates is generally very safe but be sure to let your teacher know if you have an osteo diagnosis so they can offer you alternative moves that keep your back straight or allow you to bend in a controlled and comfortable way. We have two class options that are specifically safe for those with osteopenia/osteoporosis: Buff Bones and Healthy Bones. These classes are bone-building and challenging for everyone, but they only include movements that are safe for those with osteo and joint issues.

Buff Bones is a medically-endorsed bone health system using Pilates, somatic movement, strength training & therapeutic exercise. Both Jayne and Debra are Buff Bones certified. This month, Buff Bones is offering free bone health webinars. If you want to learn even more, Jayne created an awesome virtual osteoporosis workshop. It includes a 1-hour workshop with in-depth information about bone health, including diet and how to exercise safely with osteoporosis & osteopenia, 3 30-minute Buff Bones workouts, and a guide to calcium-rich food.

So now when we’re spending time in the studio, we can rest in the comfort that we are doing good for our bodies, brains, and bones. As Healthline says, the bottom line is that Pilates is an invaluable tool for osteoporosis. But we already knew Pilates was invaluable. 😉 

See you in the studio,

Renee

Author Renee

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