About one in three women over the age of 50 will fracture a bone at some stage in their later life because of osteoporosis. That’s a sobering statistic.
And it is not just women who are impacted - 20% of men are also at risk of bone fracture as they age. Don’t get complacent, gentlemen!
Deterioration in our bone density happens through a combination of hormonal changes, reduction in activity which often happens as we age, and change in posture.
Hormones are trickier to deal with, but a combination of healthy eating, good sleep cycles, being exposed to fewer chemicals and reducing stress all go a long way towards a healthier hormone profile. Seek professional guidance if you have a hormone imbalance.
For bone strength, you might like to learn that the body uses special cells, called osteoblasts, to lay down new bone. The stress hormone, cortisol, interferes with these bone building cells – not so good especially if you are a postmenopausal woman, when reduction of oestrogen already puts you at greater risk of reduced bone density.
Osteoblasts are stimulated by the body’s movement and weightbearing. The body is wise, and if it does not need to use some function – it will reduce or switch it off to save energy.
If we move less, feeling less recoil through the soles of our feet as we walk, or stoop, we feel less “shocks” going through our spinal column upwards. It is that “shock-recoil” we experiencing when walking, running or jumping that encourages our osteoblasts to do their work. Good posture is essential as a rounded spine will receive less upward feedback through it creating a vicious cycle of bone weakening. So it pays to work on good natural alignment.
For arms, it is the extra loading - lifting heavier items - that creates not just muscle strength in our arms, but loads up the arm bones, too.
So you can see there is tons we can do here:
Promote increased wellbeing and calmness in your life – meditation can be a great tool
Work on your posture: feet well aligned, with weight even through the feet, pelvic over the feet, ribcage over the pelvis, head central over the top rib rings
Walk, loads, or run or jump if you are happy to. These are essential “good shocks” for your bones
Use weights and add resistance training into your workouts. Weights, arm bands, shopping bags… they are all good. Do check that the spine is kept long and the chest does not round
Start building strength gradually. It is better to do 4 weekly 15-minute sessions than 1 hour-long session and be too sore afterwards.
In this short video, I talk about bone strength and demonstrate a few sample exercises. Try it - and I would love to hear your feedback!
"As Kaye said previously, increased wellbeing and calmness are great tools for building strength and for weight loss too. However, if you are experiencing an internal conflict, you might find it challenging to even accomplish a 15-minute session. Is there part of you that desperately wants to get moving and lose weight up against part of you that is quite comfortable with things staying the same as they are?
It’s the ‘comfortable’ part that needs assistance so that all parts are aligned and working with you towards your goal. Think about that comfortable part of you that wants to stay the same. What are the benefits of you staying the same? Is there a secondary gain in there somewhere?
The parts themselves are part of you as a whole and are really operating with your best interests. However, they are not working together, and this is where the conflict occurs. Meditation or self-hypnosis can support you in asking these parts to come forward and align with themselves to move towards your goals, rather than away from them.
Be solution focussed
Before you start on any significant change, or when creating new goals for your life, it is important to ask yourself some key questions. Using the "Why? What? How? What if?" Model allows you to drill down to the outcome you want to achieve and start creating the solution for how you will achieve it.
Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. Writing something down takes it from your mind and commits it to paper.
Why do you want to get stronger or to lose weight? For what reason and purpose do you want to do this?
What will losing this allow you to do? Is your fitness or weight loss goal only for you or is it for others?
How is it possible that you are not as strong as you would like to be, or not at your ideal weight now?
What if you were to put in place all of the resources, capacity and capability you have yourself to bring this fitness goal to fruition, what would that look like, sound like and feel like to you?
Once you get an idea of what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like, take some time to close your eyes and imagine your outcome.
Really intensify the sights, sounds and feelings of having achieved it. Know it to be your reality. Feel yourself there and spend as much time as you can with these feelings of having achieved it. The more often you do this during the process, the more likely you are to succeed in it because you are acting ‘As if’ you already have it. Use your wonderfully powerful imagination as a tool to reach the finish line!"
Thank you Vanessa for sharing your motivating and deeply probing thoughts with us today and throughout April.
It really highlights how important it is to align the internal mental work with our physical fitness goals - the two are just sides of the same coin.
To your health,
Kaye and Vanessa