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How Not Doing Weight Bearing Exercise Can Make Your Bones Unhealthy..

Posted Aug 09 2009 10:40pm
One way to build strong bones and prevent fractures and osteoporosis is doing weight bearing exercises on a regular basis. What is weight bearing exercise, you ask? Well, any activity that stresses your bones and your joints. Any activity that makes you work. Stress on bones makes for increased bone mass. Increased bone mass means that you are more protected from getting osteoporosis. For example, here is some simple weight bearing exercises that you can do:
  • Walking
  • Lifting Weights (even with light resistance)
  • Going Up and Down Stairs
  • Dancing the Tango
  • Step Aerobics
  • Jump Rope
  • Bhangra Dancing
  • Jogging or running
  • Exercising on A Stationary Bike
  • Shoveling Snow
  • Leg Squats
  • Playing Tennis
  • Martial Arts (such as Aikido, Jujitsu, Kenjutsu, Judo, Kendo, or Karate)
Research has shown that patients who are recovering in bed for long periods of time or are in a coma state are susceptible to declining bone mass. Because they are not able to do any form of weight bearing exercising, their bones are not getting the regiment to build more bone mass. This is a phenomenon that has been studied in astronauts coming back from space. Because gravity hasn't been exerting a load on their bones, they have less bone mass. For these astronauts resistance exercise in important because it prevent the loss of muscle strength, muscle performance, bone loss which can lead to the path of osteoporosis.

You see, it all comes down to “ Wolffs Law ”. The body lays down more bone when you stress the bone. Wolff's law is a theory developed by the German Anatomist Julius Wolff (1836-1902) in the 19th century that states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads it is placed under. If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading. Specifically, the external cortical portion of the bone becomes thicker as a result. The converse is true as well: if the loading on a bone decreases, the bone will become weaker due to turnover, it is less metabolically costly to maintain and there is no stimulus for continued remodeling that is required to maintain bone mass. For example, you can see this in tennis players. They often develop stronger bones in the dominant arm that they play with since it is routinely placed under higher than normal stresses. The same effect is seen in martial arts students. Repetitive punching or kicking objects with increasing intensity (or of increasing hardness) to develop striking power to damage your opponents, can increase bone intensity in the striking area. Aikido_Tokei-jinja

Studies have shown that an exercise regiment is good for chronic neckpain. Exercise is also good for your bones. So next time you are engaging in exercise, think of all the positive benefits you are getting. Your bones will thank you.

Source: Wolff J. "The Law of Bone Remodeling". Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer, 1986 (translation of the German 1892 edition)

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