Exercise and Bones

Disclaimer: These methods have not been evaluated by the FDA. The methods recommended are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent illness or disease. 

If you have health conditions – such as heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, or obesity – or if you are age 40 or older, or If you are pregnant, or nursing check with your doctor before you begin a regular exercise program.

Osteoporosis

If you have osteoporosis, ask your doctor which activities are safe for you. Furthermore, depending on the severity of your condition you should avoid high-impact exercise to lower the risk of breaking a bone. Always protect your spine from lifting, twisting or bending.

General Guidelines

Practice to your level of ability, or just above pain level where it hurts, but feels good like a nice stretch. Not painful with shooting, burning or pain that makes you hold your breath, shake, or as if the joint will give out.   Know yourself, and if you have any injuries practice according to your doctor’s recommendations.

*If you have a ligament, tendon, or muscle tear, sprain, strain it is wise not to jump or stretch until the injury heals with time and rest, or recovery from surgery if it was necessary. If you have ligament instability, no joint cartilage (bone on bone)as with degree of osteoporosis you may need to avoid high-impact weight-bearing exercises, or ease into it gently and slowly per the guidance of your qualified medical doctor.

How much to exercise

*Practice 4-6 times per week. For those that need more exercise or are at a higher level you can practice every day or even twice per day. The time spent may be 12-30 minutes for beginners.   People that are in shape and are used to exercising may exercise one-two hours per day. Athletes work out even more. If in doubt use your common sense, back off when you need to.

**Add walking, jogging, jumping rope or dancing as weight-bearing exercises to your routine so that you can meet 10, 000 steps or 5-9 miles minimum 3 X/week. At first you may only be able to do 10 minutes, or one block. Over time you will reach your goals!

Weight-bearing exercises are the best for your bones. Weight-bearing exercises force you to work against gravity, also called gravitational loading. They include walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. In other words, your feet get off the ground!

Resistance exercises – such as lifting weights – Cause muscle contractions or muscle loading. They can also strengthen bones, but not as well as weight-bearing. (i.e. weight-bearing means your feet get off the ground, and lifting weights is not weight bearing, but a resistance exercise.)

Low impact exercises such as swimming and bicycling. They can help build and maintain strong muscles and have excellent cardiovascular benefits, but they are not the best way to exercise your bones.

*1Research suggest that physical activities that involve both impact forces that generate both gravitation and muscle loading, are most likely to have the most beneficial effects on bone metabolism and reduce fracture risk. Most, if not all, activities that generate gravitational forces also involve muscle forces (e.g., running, jumping). Some activities stimulate the skeleton almost exclusively through muscle loading because they involve little or no impact with the ground (e.g., weightlifting, swimming). Both gravitational and muscle loading increase bone mass, however, sports that involve impact forces seem to have benefits on structural indices of bone strength, possibly by increasing cortical thickness.

1. Kohrt, W. M., Barry, D. W., & Schwartz, R. S. (2009). Muscle forces or gravity: what predominates mechanical loading on bone? Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 41(11), 2050–2055. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a8c717. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037021/

Results

You will become stronger and stronger, and more flexible. Your lungs and cardiovascular system will improve along with your bones, muscles, energy and stamina levels. Less is more in the beginning. Less repetitions, less weight may be necessary. 

Don’t give up! If you’re sore the next day take it easy, soak in an Epsom Salt bath! Ease up if you need to, but don’t stop exercising. It will become a natural part of your routine.

Dr. Michele Arnold. Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.