Them Bones, Them Bones…

Skeleton_Vogue

Strike a pose… hard to do without your bones…

The leaves are starting to turn, pumpkin-spiced-everything is abundantly available (more on that later this month), and the drugstores are bursting with Halloween decorations (unless you’re in a Walmart… I heard they’ve already moved on to Christmas….).

Tree_FallWhere I work, we have a full anatomical skeleton who- though typically used for professional purpose- has taken on the role of festive décor this month. There he sits in the corner of my vision, eerily smiling at me (cuz that’s what the flesh-less do…) for the duration of my shift.

I’ve also been brushing up on my vitamin D facts this week for a seminar at school- bringing back all kinds of fascinating info about bone health. (Vitamin D- which we mostly produce via sun exposure- is required for calcium absorption, making it vital to your bony parts).

…. I guess you could say bones are on the brain (and I don’t just mean your skull….ha…ha?)

Skull

Smile!

In light of all this, I thought it would be nice to remind you in this, the season of spooky skeletons, about how cool YOUR skeleton is!

No one really talks much about bones unless you’re a kid being told to drink milk to build them, or an elderly person worrying about them becoming frail or deteriorating. What about the rest of us in the middle?

Fun fact: Having just turned 30, I have already reached, or will reach within the next 5 years, my personal peak bone density.

It’s true! On average, in your early to mid-thirties, you are no longer ‘actively’ building up your bones, it becomes more of a maintenance situation (hence the importance of all that milk!).

So what’s in a bone, anyway…? 

  • Our bones are made up of calcium and phosphorus (about 2/3rds of the bone’s weight), a few other elements in small amounts, and protein (which comprises that last 1/3rd of the weight).
  • The core of a bone is marrow, which is where all of our new blood cells are born! (Kind of big deal…).
  • Bones are constantly being remodeled. Broken down, and rebuilt.
  • When we need calcium or other material housed in the bones for alternate purposes in the body, we use the bones as our reserve pool. Then when more of the material is available (i.e. from diet), it eventually gets replaced. (Break-down. Rebuild).
  • Our bones also hold us up! (Obviously). They withstand our weight, and the various physical activities of life. Thus, there is always a little breakdown and repair going on from simple everyday use! Wear and tear!

But this is what we want! We want to use our bones! It is precisely that bit of stress that we get from walking, and climbing, and jumping, and lifting that keeps that constant bone re-modeling going! Paired with eating nourishing foods, being active helps the young build healthy, dense bones, and helps the rest hang onto as much bone density as our hormones will allow!

This seems like a good place to chat about the national recommendations for resistance training- i.e. stellar activities for stressing the bones! (We talked about cardio rec.’s here).

Both the ACSM, and the CDC recommend engaging in resistance training on 2 or more days per week…..

….Vague right?

The rec.’s additionally say you should work all muscle groups (suggesting doing half the muscle groups one day, the other half on the 2nd day).

…. Still pretty vague.

Because there is far less research (thus far) in the field of resistance training in comparison to cardio fitness, the general recommendations are, for now, somewhat lacking in direction.

HandWeights

Start small!

But we know that building muscle benefits the body greatly in terms of metabolic and cardiovascular health.

And we know that building stronger muscles will allow for stronger muscle contractions– which leads to more bone rebuilding!

So, do we need to go pump iron at the gym? Well, under proper direction, it sure wouldn’t hurt!

But if that’s just not on your agenda right now, focus on weight-bearing exercises. Think of your plank pose in Pilates class, or arm balances in yoga- I’d say there’s a decent amount of weight bearing going on there! Think of a barre or boot camp class, or even a sport like tennis! There’s so much dynamic, explosive movement going on that you are still helping to stress your bones in a healthy way.

So the recommendations are a little fuzzy. Choose to meet them anyway! Choose to be considerate of your skeleton! (You’d just be a big pile of stagnant flesh without it!…. creepy).

Oh, go ahead… LOVE them bones!

Skeleton_UpwardView

 

4 thoughts on “Them Bones, Them Bones…

    • Lana, I think I goofed. I thought I had clicked to reply directly to your comment, but I just ended up replying BENEATH your comment. I apologize if you didn’t get a notification. If you revisit the post, you’ll see my response 🙂

  1. Hi Lana! Glad you enjoyed the post! As for over the counter supplementation, the current evidence is inconclusive in showing any benefit to calcium supplementation in a non-osteoporotic person. Most folks are better off getting sufficient calcium through food (mIlk, yogurt, broccoli, almonds, etc.), and making sure you get a little sun on most days. The sun exposure on the skin activates vitamin D, assuring proper absorption of calcium (thus, these two elements go hand in hand!). Note: In the northeast, we are actually too far from the sun during the winter to get this benefit, so Vitamin D supplementation may be something to consider seasonally in this case. Hope this answers your question! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Take. Care. | Healthy Prongs

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