We have all seen it. The physical changes that occur in the body as we age can lead to poor posture, physical limitations and debilitating health. Even if we haven’t experienced these changes, many of us still live with concern or even fear of these conditions. Tj Lux of the Exercise Coach shares thoughts on the aging process and how to effectively fight the aging process.
And while osteoporosis and osteopenia have become all too common in today’s world of routine physicals and yearly bone density screenings, we don’t have to accept this fate. The loss of bone can be prevented and improved no matter the age and condition; so alas, there’s hope.
Our skeletal system is essentially designed, constructed and formed until our early 20’s. It’s during these early stages of life when we build our foundation. The more we can stimulate, support and not confound the bone growth and modeling process, the greater the potential we have for maintaining that structure as we age. However, bone remodeling never stops. About 10 percent of bone is turned over each year so the production and formation of bone is ongoing.
Naturally, this turnover changes as we age but it’s reflective of the ongoing process occurring in our body. These three strategies will help maintain and even improve bone density to ensure the structural integrity of your skeletal system will not be the weak link in your health.
Support it. Exercise, but specifically strength training, is proven to be the best and only solution to increase bone density naturally. Strength training provides a stimulus to the muscles and thus causes the bone to respond, adapt and grow stronger. Research has clearly demonstrated that for exercise (i.e. strength training) to be effective in preventing and improving bone density, it must be site-specific and load dependent. So we must target specific areas and ensure appropriate effort is given to force the body into positive adaptations.
Conversely, activities such as walking or running may not be an effective stimulus for change.*
Feed it. Like any living tissue, bone needs the appropriate raw material to maintain and increase density. Eating foods (such as vegetables especially the green, leafy kind) rich in calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorous are all important. Vitamin D also plays a huge role in bone density which you can get from the sun or from supplements.
Protect it. The stripping and mining of bone density occurs from chronically elevated blood sugar, inflammation and stress. Interestingly, protein consumption helps with the calcium absorption and vitamin D and K need fat to be utilized. So while, the earlier the better, to fight off the effects of aging on our bones, it’s never too late to join the fight. Start strength training, provide your body with the necessary material and do what’s necessary to protect your foundation and will be well.
TJ Lux is the Director of Training and Development on The Exercise Coach corporate team and is also a multi-unit franchisee. Lux is an all-star athlete who returned from his pro basketball career in Europe to join The Exercise Coach team. Cutting-edge technology and fitness routines carried him through a successful athletic career at Northern Illinois University, where he ranks as the school’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, and in Europe, where he earned various all-star and MVP recognition.
*Pollock, M.L. et al. (1992). Effects of isolated extension resistance training on bone mineral density of the elderly. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 24(5):S66.)