HOW MY EXERCISE PROGRAMME CAN HELP YOU
My Bone Boosters programme consists of a set of easy movements designed specifically to strengthen and preserve bone thickness. They are exercises you can do in your everyday life, around your home or workplace or in the garden. You need no more than 20-30 minutes a day, for three days a week, though we do ask that you build up to this slowly to avoid possible injury or over-tiring.
Bone Boosters are intended especially for women of 40-plus who are approaching the menopause, but the earlier you start incorporating them into your life, the better. There is also a special Osteo-Relief section of exercises for those who already suffer from osteoporosis.
But before you start this or any exercise programme, please check with your doctor if you suffer from heart disease, have high blood-pressure, joint problems, back problems, if you are very overweight, have any serious illness, or are convalescing.
If you already have osteoporosis, do not attempt the main Bone Boosters section and, check with your doctor before starting on the special Osteo-Relief.
It is essential that you check the support and equipment you will be using before performing any of the following exercises in your home or even out in the garden, to make sure they are strong enough to take your weight.
How much exercise should we do?
To be effective exercise must be done on a regular basis. Some physical activity should be undertaken for an hour at least once a week, but preferably more often, up to 5 times a week. Ideally a generally more active lifestyle must be aimed for, because all exercise and activity is good for us – but inactivity isn’t.
Why is weight bearing exercise so beneficial?
We know that it’s a natural process for women (and men) to lose some density from bone after about the age of 35. Research over the past 10 years or so has shown that through regular, weight-bearing exercise it is possible to prevent some of the dramatic loss which often occurs in women over 50. This is largely due to the fall in levels of the female hormone oestrogen at the time of the menopause (or earlier if there has been a premature menopause brought about by hysterectomy). Genetic inheritance and other factors can also contribute to bone loss.
Weight-bearing exercises or movements that use the bodies own weight will help preserve and even build bone, but the effect only occurs when the weight is repeatedly exerted. Muscles that are attached to either end of the bone force it to twist and bend in response to strike action and jarring movements. This stress-strengthening effect on bone is boosted if sufficient calcium and Vitamin D are available in the diet – more on this in our chapter on nutrition……
Simple brisk walking, skipping or running all use a hard, vibrating strike action with the weight of the upper body borne by the spine hips, legs and feet. A push up uses whole body weight and can strengthen shoulders arms and wrists. Studies by Dr Joan Bassey at the University of Nottingham Medical School Nottingham showed that pre-menopausal women who were encouraged to do a series of little jumps for a controlled period of time on a regular basis, significantly increased the bone density of their ankles, knees and femoral head.
Can you target specific bones?
Introducing additional weights can target specific bones still further. For example, exercising with dumb-bells puts extra demand on the arms and wrists. So too does carrying heavy bags of shopping (as long as you keep a straight back and don’t stoop). Lifting household objects, like heavy cooking pots or the vacuum cleaner, has a similar Bone-Boosting effect. However care must be taken when carrying awkward and heavy objects to avoid a falls that might cause a fracture. Twisting off the tight lid of a jar helps wrists and forearms too.
Once you’ve followed my bone boosting exercise programme you will be able to adapt other everyday objects and activities and turn them into your own Bone Boosters.
My Bone Boosters programme targets hips, wrists, and spine particularly, these being most vulnerable to the painful, crippling and sometimes fatal fractures caused as a result of osteoporosis. So go ahead, enjoy the sessions and make them part of your life. And may the power they bring be with you.
BONE BOOSTERS EXERCISE PLAN
Before you begin my special Bone Boosters exercise plan it is essential to warm-up by putting your major joints through their natural range of movement. This will help to maintain mobility, warm up major muscles and raise the pulse. By adding some stretches to your warm up you will be ready and prepared to continue exercising without the risk of injury. But the less fit you are, the longer your warm-up needs to be. An average warm-up should take 5-10 minutes.
So, let’s make a start. You need to be wearing loose, comfortable clothes and sports shoes if possible. Clear enough space and use furniture and fittings around the house, like tables, chairs, banisters and the kitchen sink, for support. Or better still you could exercise outside in the fresh air. But before performing any exercises in your home or garden, it is essential to check that the support is secure and strong enough to take your weight, and that the ground surface you are working on isn’t wet or slippery. Don’t exercise until at least an hour after meals, and keep drinking water near at hand to avoid becoming dehydrated.
1. STAND TALL
Check your posture by standing with your feet comfortably apart, your shoulders back but down and relaxed. (Don’t poke your head forward.) Pull in your tummy muscles, tighten your bottom and tuck your tail under. This will tilt your pelvis forward. Your knees should be soft (relaxed).
2. WRIST CIRCLE
To mobilise wrists sit in your chair or stand up. Tuck your elbows into your waist or place them on a table for support and simply circle your hands, working the wrists first 8 times in one direction, then 8 times in the other direction.
To mobilise shoulders and release tension, place your fingertips on your shoulders. Bring your elbows together in front of you, then take them up, and back, and draw imaginary circles with your elbows, pulling your shoulder blades apart. 8 times clockwise then 8 times anti-clockwise.
4. HEAD ROLL
To mobilise neck and release tension, look over your right shoulder with chin parallel to floor. Slowly drop your chin to your chest and roll it on around to look over your left shoulder. Return your chin to your chest and roll back up to the right side. Continue with control, 8 times. Do not roll your head backwards.
5. ANKLE CIRCLE
To mobilise ankles and toes, stand with your feet comfortably apart, hands on your hips or hold on to a table unit or chair back for support. Place the toes of your right foot on the ground. Keep them in place, heel up. Circle your ankle 8 times clockwise, then 8 times anti-clockwise. Repeat with your left foot.
6. SIDE TWIST
To mobilise your upper body, stand with your feet apart, lift your arms up to shoulder level. Bend your elbows and bring your fingertips together. Keep your hips facing forward and twist your upper body and head around to the right side only. Come back to face centre, then take your upper body around and look to the left. Repeat 8 times.
7. SIDE REACH
To mobilise the sides of your body, stand with your feet apart and knees relaxed. With your right arm, reach up and over your head, bending your left knee. Bring your arm down and transfer your weight on to your right leg and reach up and over with your left hand. (As if you are climbing up a rope.) Repeat 8 times to alternate sides.