It is a natural process for women and men to lose some bone density after the age of 35. But for most women over 50 there can be a dramatic loss at the time of the menopause, due to a fall in levels of the female hormone, oestrogen. It may be earlier if a premature menopause occurs, brought about by hysterectomy, or because of genetic inheritance or other factors. Weight bearing exercise has been proven to help maintain bone density, however to be effective it should be done on a regular basis. Simple brisk walking or running uses a jarring strike action with the weight of the upper body borne by the spine, hip and leg bones, which are most at risk of osteoporotic fractures.
Muscles around the bones are strengthened and support the bones, helping to improve posture and prevent falls which could result in fracture. Standing or hopping from one leg to another whilst cooking or talking on the phone also boost bones. A push up uses whole body weight to target and strengthen bones in the shoulders, arms and wrists. Specific bones can be targeted still more by introducing weights which take extra effort for the arms and wrists to lift. Heavy bags of shopping, carrying household objects like heavy pots or the vacuum cleaner have a similar bone boosting effect and the simple twisting action used to open a tight jar lid can help strengthen bones in the wrist and forearms. Along with the spine and hips these bones in particular are most vulnerable to the painful, crippling and sometimes fatal fractures caused by typically weak osteoporotic bones.
1 Start bone boosting by warming up the body and targeting the spine, hips with aerobic marching. Clear a space, put on motivational music with a strong beat and simply march around the room for 2 mins until you puff a bit!
2 Now stand with feet together and simply step your right foot out to the side clap your hands and step back to centre. Now step to left and clap. Continue stepping and clapping 20 times.
3 Still targeting the hips and spine use a stair or door step. Hold the banister or door and simply step up and back down 20 times with care.
4 To strengthen wrists tuck elbows into your waist and simply circle your hands 10 times in one direction and 10 in the other.
5 With elbows still tucked hold a tennis ball in each hand. Squeeze ball tightly and release 20 times.