Exercise for Bone Health

The Importance of Exercise For your Bone Health

In our younger years, bone health isn’t on a top list of priorities except for maybe the odd break. However, as we age, issues such as arthritis, osteoporosis and fractures become ever more present. With a rise in sedentary behaviours, it’s not only our weight and the risk of disease we should be concerned about, it’s also the effect on our bone health.

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones become brittle and fragile due to a loss of tissue. In Ireland 25% of men and 50% of women aged 50+ are living with the condition. According to the Irish Osteoporosis Society, 20% of people aged 60+ who fracture a hip will die within 6 – 12 months due to secondary complications of the condition. Only a shocking 30% of people aged 60 who suffer a hip fracture will regain their independence.

Osteoporosis is one of the leading causes of fractures in Ireland and the cost of fracture occurring falls is set to cost the State €1billion by 2020 and €2billion by 2030.

It’s important that we make shifts to protect our bone health as we age, but how?

Exercise is a well known preventative tool to help keep our waistlines trim and stave off disease, but it’s vital bone health too. It is more difficult for an older adult to form new bone in comparison to a twenty year old, however this doesn’t mean that exercise can’t have a positive effect on our bone health as we age.

The most beneficial exercises for bone health are “load bearing”, or those where you are forced to work against gravity, for example walking, jogging, climbing stairs and hiking as opposed to exercise where you weight it supported such swimming or cycling. The benefits of load bearing exercise are two fold; firstly they help to build leg muscle which acts as a type of “scaffolding” for your bones and secondly the impact of your feet on the ground sends a vibration through your bones and helps to stimulate productivity of healthy bone.  In fact the most beneficial exercise for your bones are those where you are forced to move in multi-directions such as racquet games or aerobics including tennis, badminton, ping pong etc.

These multi-directional exercises are fantastic for the lower body, but what about our upper torso? The answer lies in resistance work which requires muscle contraction.

But how often? It’s recommended that we practice 30 minutes of load bearing exercise, five times per week and also include at least two sessions of resistance work per week.

Don’t forget, this type exercise regime is not only going to help your bone health, but lead to other health benefits such as weight management, disease prevention, confidence and independence to name but a few.

Why not try a Siel Bleu exercise class or a walking group to help improve your bone health?




***Disclaimer: The information in this post is for reference only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical expertise or advice. If you have any concerns about your own or another’s health then please contact your doctor. 

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