Pilates exercises for improved bone density

Today’s is the last blog in our series on bone health. This week, we look at exercises that can improve your bone density. These assume you have healthy bones. If this is not the case, contact me and I can write a special programme for you.

For feet and legs

Standing tap foot Stand tall and neutral with ears over shoulders, hips, knees and ankles, your chest lifted, and arms relaxed at your side. Breathe in and up, shift your weight over one leg as you lift the other. Count to five and then switch to the other leg. This warms up your feet and ankles and, in turn, improves your flexibility. Try tapping your toes sitting or standing 10 times.

Lunges Stand in a half squat position – feet shoulder-width apart, knees behind your toes, weight on your heels, torso lifted and hands in front of you for balance. Cross your right leg behind and beyond your left leg and drop as low as you can, keeping your pelvis and shoulders straight ahead and your weight back. Push up and step to the left with your left foot. Do ten reps to the left, then ten to the right.

Balancing on one foot at a time is also a great exercise for lower body bone density.

Shoulder bridge Lie on your back with your knees bent and a tennis ball under each foot. Roll up through the spine, vertebrae by vertebrae, squeezing your glutes. Repeat five times.

For arms

The plank Lie on your front leaning on your elbows, lift your knees to go up onto your toes, with shoulders down and neck long. With feet parallel lift and hold your abdominals in. Then progress to lifting one arm punching side to side and up to the ceiling to twist.

Side plank Lean onto the left hip and place your left hand down, straighten the legs and lift your hips so you are on your hand and side of your heel in a straight line from head, shoulder hip to feet. using the abdominals and obliques lift the hips and reach your top hand to the ceiling. On your out breathe twist under your arm pit then return. after 5-6 change sides.

Superman Start on your hands and knees, with your pelvis in a neutral position and a flat back. On your out breath gently clench the left buttock and slide your left leg away until it is straight, with your toes touching the floor. Simultaneously lift the right arm to horizontal. Return the leg and relax. Repeat three to five times for each leg.

Using weights is also a great way to improve bone health in the arms and shoulders. Ask me if you need details.

For back

Back extensions Lie on your front, straighten your legs behind you keep your arms at your sides. Lift your upper back, pressing your hips into the mat. Keep your head and neck neutral and hold for 30 seconds before lowering. For a deeper stretch, put your hands underneath your shoulders.

Dart or Swan Dive Lying on your front, arms at your sides and palms facing your body, your neck is long, legs are together parallel with toes pointing. Lengthen through spine.

I hope you have found this series on bone density interesting and helpful. Looking after your bone density is just one way to look after your health as you get older. We will be looking at others in the coming months. If you are worried about your bone health, why not sign up for a class next year. Our class timetable for the new year can be found here

Next week we will be concentrating on breathing and how it can help with pain as well as stress relief…

Squeeze and breathe…

Love Hannah x

Farnham Pilates – Stronger Saturday – Focus on Lifestyle for Bone Health

Bone density and lifestyle

This month at Farnham Pilates we’ve been focusing on helping clients improve their bone density and bone health. This week we look at lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health. These assume you do not have problems with your bones; if you do, please talk to your GP about anything new you would like to try.

Exercise

Activities like swimming and cycling are great for cardio fitness but they are not weight bearing so they won’t help your bone density. This is why a variety of exercises is best for overall health. Great weight bearing activities include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Climbing
  • Skipping
  • Jumping up and down on the spot.

What else can you do?

Try to fit weight bearing exercise into everyday life:

  • Use the stairs rather than the lift
  • Try to keep moving throughout the day
  • When getting up from sitting or lying down, take your weight through your legs rather than using your arms to push you up
  • Do up and down exercise on the loo every time you go
  • Fit in five press-ups while you boil the kettle.

Take a look at my mum’s morning exercises here https://vimeo.com/349833103.  She does this two-minute routine each morning for flexibility and for bone health.

Try to reduce stress

Another way to look after your bones is to reduce stress in your life. Stress increases cortisol levels in your blood, in turn blood sugar levels increase which makes calcium levels in urine go up. Of course, none of us can avoid stress all the time, but it is useful to identify what situations make you feel stressed and work out ways to avoid them. I have done this and now:

  • I try to plan better so that I am not late.
  • I write to-do lists and shopping lists so that I don’t forget things or have to do two trips.
  • I keep a notepad by my bed so that if I think of something important, I can write it down and then forget about it.
  • I avoid reading emails just before I go to bed.
  • If I get stressed, I try to go for a walk (otherwise I would eat biscuits!

Next week in our final blog on bone density, we look at the Pilates exercises that can aid good bone health.

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Best Foods for strong Bones from Farnham Pilates

Farnham Pilates Weekly Blog –
Get Stronger Saturday

Best foods for strong bones

Here is your weekly post on Bone health.

A few Osteoporosis/Bone Health Facts and Figures
Bone remodelling is a lifelong process, but unfortunately bone loss starts to outpace bone gain as we age.  This starts to happen around aged 34 when peak bone mass is achieved for most people….this is not an ‘old person’s issue’!   The decline in oestrogen production also has a negative impact on bone remodelling activity for both sexes – this isn’t, as many think, a ‘female only ‘ issue.  Men are less susceptible to developing osteoporosis but their stats are still pretty compelling.

·         The first 3-5 years following the onset of menopause are associated with an accelerated period of bone mass loss before the decline, settling to a more linear decline as menopause progresses.  Most women are hitting Peri-Menopause in their late 40’s and Menopause in their early 50’s.
·         As bone mass declines and the threshold for osteoporosis is approached and exceeded, the risk of fractures to the hip, spine and other fall fractures is also greatly increased.
·         In the UK and the US 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 will experience a fracture.
·         Research by the National Osteoporosis Society estimates that the daily cost of caring for those who experience disability due to hip fractures is somewhere in the region of £6 Million PER DAY!!
·         The mortality rate for those who experience hip fracture increases by 20% in the 12 months post fracture.
·         There are actually more ‘fragility fractures’ – (300,00)  in  the UK than strokes (275,000)  and heart attacks (110,000)
·         Hip fractures cause the most morbidity with reported mortality rates up to 20-24% in the first year after a hip fracture, and greater risk of dying may persist for at least 5 years afterwards. Loss of function and independence among survivors is profound, with 40% unable to walk independently, 60% requiring assistance a year later. Because of these losses, 33% are totally dependent or in a nursing home in the year following a hip fracture.
·         A 50 year old woman has a 2.8% risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime, equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer.
·         Studies have shown that bone mineral density in postmenopausal women can be maintained or increased with therapeutic exercise.

How diet can help increase bone density for strong bones

Here at Farnham Pilates we marked World Osteoporosis Day with a bone density health check for all Pilates clients. This week we are looking at ways your diet can make a difference to your bone health.

Calcium is vital to bone health and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. This is why food supplements often pair them together. If you would rather not take food supplements, consider adjusting your diet to include calcium-rich foods.

Calcium-rich foods

If you tolerate it, including cows’ milk and milk products in your diet is a great way to improve bone density. Other calcium-rich foods include:

  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Molasses.

Good sources of vitamin D: 

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel 
  • eggs 
  • fortified fat spreads 
  • fortified breakfast cereals 
  • some powdered milks 

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements as well as osteoporosis drug treatments if they have concerns that your calcium intake may be low.Extra tips –
– Cook soups using bone broth from Sunday’s chicken (cook the bones and use as the stock!). I also use miso which is good for skin. 
– It’s also helpful to reduce your caffeine intake (caffeine affects how the body absorbs calcium) and to eat a healthy amount of protein every day.
– Reduce salt – excess salt is excreted in the urine along with calcium.
– Alcohol – Chronic alcohol consumption increases level of the parathyroid hormone, which leads to a leaching of calcium from bone; alcohol also has a role in decreasing osteoblast (the bone-making cell) formation.
– Check medications such as steroids – steroids can cause Steroid Induced Osteoporosis
– Reduce high sugar drinks – as phosphoric acid – found in Coca-Cola type drinks has been linked to lower bone density in some epidemiological studies – great information in this blog via Healthy But Smart and it’s also been included in a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
– Smoking – Research also suggests that smoking impedes the hormone calcitonin, which helps build bones; Nicotine and free radicals generated whilst smoking destroy ssteoblasts.
– Excess Sugar + Diabetes – High blood sugar slows new bone formation, accelerates bone resorption and impairs fracture healing.

Next week we will look at lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health. 

Squeeze and breathe 
Hannah

Pilates keeps your bones strong

Welcome all, 
Here is your weekly post to get your body and mind motivated for the week ahead. Each week we’ll send out exercises and a healthy recipe for you to focus on and why. If you have any specific areas of your body that you would like exercises for please message me and I will try and include it in the next email ….see below for why you need to strengthen your bones.

Bone Density – why it matters and how Pilates can help

My friend fell over and broke her wrist last month so I’ve focussed on increasing bone density this month in the Pilates classes. Do you know if your bones in good shape?

Does bone density matter?

Bone density is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. Too little can mean you are more likely to suffer from broken bones – a condition called osteoporosis. The risk of this increases post menopause so it’s worth taking note early and looking after your bones. This can be done with a good diet and with weight bearing exercise.
If you are concerned about your bone density – perhaps you have had a post-menopause fracture or there is family history – ask your GP about a bone density scan. If you have thyroid problems, talk to your GP as some conditions can affect bone density.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’ and those with the condition have low bone mass or brittle bones. This can lead to fractures, especially in the spine and hips. Osteopenia is a pre-cursor to osteoporosis. If there is any doubt about your bone health, you must inform your Pilates teacher who can modify your exercise programme for you. [or: let me know so that I can modify your exercise programme for you.]

What affects bone density?

The process of bone formation begins in the womb and continues until late adolescence – this is when it is crucial to have enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. But what if your adolescence is a distant memory? Is it too late to look after your bones? There is not arguing that good nutrition in childhood contributes enormously to healthy bones, however there is plenty you can do to improve your bone health. 

Two quick exercises – 
Press up  – on your hands and knees and push down and up to strengthen your arms! Repeat 8 times, rest and repeat.

Swimming – on your hands and knees. Shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees, engage your core and lengthen you right hand and left leg away keeping your torso still. Repeat 6 times each side.

In my next blog, I talk about changes you can make to your diet to improve your bone health but see below for a great bone and skin strengthening receipt with bone broth!