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