Good Bones

When it comes to wellness, a lot of emphasis is usually placed on nutrition, muscles, and regimen. What do I eat? When is carb day? Am I replacing electrolytes? How many reps should I do? Too often, bones get overshadowed by the attention that we give to muscle development. In fact, our bones are so dependable that (unless there is an injury) most of us don’t really think a lot about caring for our bones until advanced age. Here’s why you should.

Bones have a breaking point. Bones are tough, but they are not rigid—they’re porous. The fact that they actually bow enough to absorb shock when we jump and lift and twist is a miracle. Bones are really hard working. They protect your organs and tissues. They store minerals. They have an outside layer called the periosteum, and inside, they have bone marrow which produces red and white blood cells. They also create levers that our muscles work around so that we can move.

Bone density has its highs and lows. Bones grow with us, and they grow through stress! Not the deadlines and income taxes type of stress, the putting down the potato chips and getting off of the sofa to go play tennis kind of stress. A lifestyle of inactivity can actually contribute to bone loss. You can build bone density up until around age 30. Sadly, after that, you are already past the point of peak bone mass.

Bone density can be supported. While it’s nearly impossible to naturally build significant bone density after the first two decades of life, you can work to maintain your existing bone density. Here are three ways that you can care for your frame.

  1. Nutrition. Eating vegetables, protein, and getting enough vitamin D is good for your muscles… and your bones.
  2. Exercise. Specifically, weight bearing exercise. But you don’t need much. The weight of your own body during a brisk walk for 30 minutes each day is generally enough.
  3. Yoga. Yoga can increase our stability, which minimizes the chances of falls and bone breakage. It also increases proprioception (our internal awareness of where our body is at spacially) which can also lead to fewer falls. And studies* have shown that even beginning yoga at an advanced age can help maintain bone density in the spine.

* For further reading, check out this article from Harvard University.