OSTEOPOROSIS: THE VALUE OF EXERCISE

Now let’s turn to the big E that stands for EXERCISE, very necessary in maintaining a positive calcium balance.

During the past 100 years, machines have taken over most of the work previously done by human muscles. Labour-saving devices have taken on the manual labour in factory and home. Cars and buses have eliminated walking and bicycling. Lifts and escalators make stair climbing unnecessary. Fewer and fewer people have the hard labour of farm work; many sit to get to work, sit at an office all day, sit for meals, then sit in front of a TV or cinema screen.

But the body was designed to move, and physical activity is necessary to preserve bone mass.

A sedentary life can ruin your health, increasing the likelihood of muscle and bone deterioration, heart disease, obesity and premature ageing. Prolonged minimal physical activity can produce a calcium deficit, with losses of calcium mostly from weight-bearing bones. Excessive pounds can put an added burden on already weakened bones.

The good news is that it is almost never too late to do something about it. Regardless of age, studies show that exercise can help you, even if you are bed-ridden, confined to a wheelchair or somewhat handicapped. Tissues of all ages respond to resumed stimulus with vigour and renewal, as muscle is strengthened and bone density increases.

Young people should get plenty of exercise while their skeletal mass is still reaching maturity; adults need to continue exercise to maintain and strengthen their musculature and bone mass; and exercise is particularly important to older women who may be susceptible to osteoporosis and fracturing of bones. A common type of low back pain has been traced to weakened back muscles; exercise can bring relief and help prevent occurrences.

Exercise delays the loss of muscle tissue which in turn slows the demineralization of your bone mass, even to increasing the density of bones. It should come as no surprise that studies of athletes show they have greater musculature and denser bones than people leading a sedentary life. It has been suggested that the need for exercise actually increases with age, because as body processes and systems become less effective over the years, exercise should make up this reduction in efficiency by stimulating metabolism. But most people’s level of physical activity seems to decrease, and it is easy to find an excuse for sitting in an armchair. Many people have exercise deficiency and are unaware of it.

Exercise can:

•    accelerate the flow of blood to your bones, to transport

nutrients for bone building and increasing new bone growth,

will seem easier,

help reduce blood pressure,

act as a transquillizer releasing tension, reducing stress and

lowering the production of harmful adrenal hormones,

help you sleep better, without using pills,

help you ward off depression, and give a sense of well-being;

you’ll feel better because you’ll be healthier, and know you’re looking better, with glowing skin and more upright posture,

•    help decrease body fat and re-shape your body. More

significant than the numbers on your bathroom scales will be the change in the composition of your body tissue as you go from fat to fit.

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