When you feel weak and tired, you feel it in your bones. The reality is, it may actually stem from there. Bone health affects how we move, feel, and fight diseases. It is important to make bone health a priority while you’re young since decreased density and weakening happen gradually over time. Whatever your age, take care of your bones, and reduce your risk of injury and illness.
Importance of Bone Health
Bone is a living tissue that grows and shrinks depending on what is added to or taken from it. Bones are made up of the minerals collagen and calcium, which make the bones flexible and hard at the same time. The hardness protects against injury while the flexibility allows the skeleton to withstand stress and strain—this is why your bones don’t break when muscles expand and stretch. Bones also release minerals into the body as needed. As you grow, you are regularly adding bone tissue and taking bone tissue. When you are young, more tissue naturally gets added than is taken away, but somewhere around age thirty, that switches. If you don’t take steps to actively add to your bone tissue, you can develop weak bones or osteoporosis as more and more tissue is taken from the bones without being added back.
Weak bones and osteoporosis put you at greater risk for other conditions as well. Broken bones or fractures are a common result of weak bones. Lack of energy and fatigue typically accompany osteoporosis. Immune function is closely related to bone health, so as the bones weaken, so does the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders, and other digestive problems. Over time, this immune impairment can also cause muscle degeneration and increased fat storage, putting you at risk for many serious illnesses including cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.
Keeping Bones Healthy
Although osteoporosis or bone weakening doesn’t usually occur until old age, it is a gradual process that starts years before. No matter your age, you should start now to improve bone health and help prevent bone loss later in life. Three main things are needed to keep bones healthy: calcium, vitamin D, and exercise. The first two are obtained through diet and/or supplements. As a side note, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplements.
Exercise might be the best way to add density and strength to bones. Just like muscles, bone tissue is dynamic meaning that it builds with increased resistance. It may seem like putting too much pressure on bones would increase risk of injury, but the opposite is true…as long as you do it correctly. As you gradually add pressure, the tissue grows and becomes stronger. There are many exercises to build bone health, and they use a combination of weight-bearing and resistance activities. Weight-bearing exercises can be high-impact or low-impact and include things like aerobics, hiking, jogging, jumping rope, and climbing stairs. Resistance exercises are also called muscle-strengthening exercises and involve moving your body away from gravity in some way. Free weights, elastic bands, weight machines, squats, push-ups, and pull-ups are all examples of resistance activities.
Yoga, Pilates, and other balancing activities can also improve bone strength and flexibility. However, these exercises can be dangerous for people who already have osteoporosis since they carry a risk of falling. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, especially if you already have any kind of medical condition.
If you have questions about your current bone health and how it might be impacting other conditions, Capital Ortho can help. We can help you make a plan for building bone tissue and improving your overall health. Make an appointment with us today!