Healthy Joints and Bones Through Exercise
We all have heard of the importance of exercise for the
health and well-being of our lives. But did you know that exercise can also be its own form of preventative and sustaining medicine, especially when we’re concerned about the health of our bones?
Exercise really can help prevent an extraordinarily wide range of health problems. Even things that don’t seem exercise-related, like certain kinds of cancer, for instance, may very well be postponed, lessened, or flat-out prevented through exercise. Relevant to the orthopedic discussion, the EIM specifically calls out osteoporosis. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “Regular physical activity significantly slows the age-related bone loss that causes osteoporosis, and it may also increase bone mineral density and strength as well. Exercise also increases muscle strength and endurance, enhances mobility and can reduce the risk of falling. The key to maximizing the benefits of exercise is to follow a well-designed program that you can stick with over the long-term.”1
It’s important, however, to exercise in the right way. If you are determined to begin a regular exercise routine that fits your lifestyle and possible condition, remember a few things before beginning.
- Consult with your doctor about any exercise that may or may not benefit you. You don’t want to be inadvertently doing something in the gym that is actually harming you rather than helping you.
- Take it slow. If you haven’t previously exercised regularly in the past, it takes a while to build up to what your goals may be. Give your body time to adjust. If you’re integrating a weight-lifting routine, you may experience quite a bit of soreness the few sessions. Though uncomfortable at first, this is a good thing. It means your muscles are being broken down and re-building stronger. After a while of regular exercise, this will diminish.
- Be patient. Too many people get easily discouraged when beginning to exercise. They aren’t feeling or seeing results as quickly as they want to and then quit. Be prepared to wait a while before you start feeling and seeing the results you want.
- Mix things up. Whether you’re going to the gym, are exercising at home or outside, it’s important to vary your routine. If you do the same exercises every single workout session, your body may get too used to it – so much so that you’ll notice your progress will start to flatline. By varying your routine, you not only challenge yourself more, you’ll continue to progress.
- It doesn’t matter what kind of routine you do. Whether you want to swim, run, lift weights, do push-ups and sit-ups, go to the gym, etc., what really matters is that you’re getting your heartbeat up for a sustained amount of time, and that you’re using your muscles in the right way, with proper form (this is crucial: improper form will not only give you the benefits of exercising, it may also be harming other parts of your body). So find an exercise you enjoy and go with it.
- Combine cardiovascular exercise with muscle-building. Inevitably you will find that you will prefer one of these exercises over another. That’s natural. But both are equally important for your health. Cardio exercises are great for your heart, will release those endorphins that make you feel a sense of well-being after exercise, and will eventually raise your energy level throughout the day. Muscle building gives you stability, will help protect your bones and ligaments, and may even make you feel pretty darn confident.
- Set a schedule and stick to it. We all have busy lives, but it’s important to be regular in your exercising. This may at first be a challenge. Try to pick a time that best fits your schedule and stick to it: even if all you want to do is stay in bed that extra hour, or just go home after work and veg out. Surprisingly, after a few months of exercising on a set schedule, you’ll find yourself doing it without even thinking about it!
These are merely a few pointers on how to begin an exercise routine. Remember: exercising isn’t just for bodybuilders or triathlon athletes. All of us need it, especially with a world in which our jobs are becoming increasingly more sedentary.
- The American College of Sports Medicine. Exercising with Osteoporosis. Accessed February 1, 2016: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/719872.