You have probably read the title and thought you are far too young to worry about it; loss of bone density. If you have read this far, it is probably only so you can pass on some information to your mother/aunt/grandmother.
Well please do read on because, while osteoporosis most commonly affects post menopausal women, loss of bone mass starts much earlier and affects both genders. Both men and women reach peak bone mass at the age of 30.
It is true that there are some factors that you cannot control, such as having a small frame, low body weight or a family history of stress fractures in later years. However you can and should make some simple life changes now to keep your bones healthy and strong for many years to come.
It has been found that exercising consistently, 30 minutes per day, five times per week, stimulates bones to re-model. The activity must be weight bearing, holding your body against gravity, so walking, running, playing tennis, practising yoga and Pilates are all good.
However, excessive amounts of high intensity exercise puts excessive stress on joints and over time can cause imbalances and injuries.
A regular yoga practice will not put too much strain on joints or damage cartilage and has the same bone health benefits. By holding your body weight against gravity, you put a mild stress on your bones which are stimulated to lay down new growth.
A dynamic practice will move the body through every plane of movement, working the upper body and spine as well as lower body which is where many forms of exercise focus.
An extra and important benefit of yoga is its focus on the spine and improving your posture. A regular yoga practice opens up the chest, and strengthens and lengthens the thoracic spine, which is a particularly vulnerable area when significant bone mass is lost.
A hunched posture and osteoporosis together can result in stress fractures to the front of the thoracic vertebrae, making the hunched posture even worse.
This all sounds terribly serious but just remembering, you really can prevent this situation through a dedicated yoga practice to open up the front body, strengthen core muscles and maintain a healthy spine.
All yoga is good, but these standing poses and chest openers are particularly effective for encouraging bone growth and good posture:
Utkatasana (chair pose)
Virabhadrasana 1 and 2 (warrior 1 and 2)
Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose)
Setubandhasana (bridge pose)
Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
There is a theory, backed up by research, that too much protein (animal based or not) can actually weaken bones. Protein is acid forming and when too much acid enters the bloodstream, the body excretes alkaline calcium to neutralize it. Of course balance is the key, you may or may not eat meat and dairy and there is no need to shun either but just by increasing the proportion of fruit and veggies in your diet, you can balance your system and prevent calcium loss.
Vegetables (particularly broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes and kale)
Fresh and dried fruit
I am well aware that women are at more risk, and you need to work on this throughout life. The thing about protein is interesting - yet another reason for a balanced, non-faddy diet.
I do the warrior pose most days and really feel this strengthens my ankle bones. I am doing this partly to ward of osteoporosis in my bones as I get older, though it is also great for my balance and concentration.
that about sums it up! Very interesting article though, I admit that being male and not on the space station I didn't think this was an issue for me. I will be walking more and eating more broccoli!
That's interesting about protein affecting bones. But also very annoying when you've not long started a low-carb diet (which automatically increases your protein intake, which I thought was gooood!) It seems there's no perfect way to eat, frustratingly.