Whilst we’re always trying to encourage our clients, prospective clients, family and friends to exercise often and make mindful choices with regards to their nutrition, we normally only touch on the points of measurable benefit to motivate them to do so. We constantly talk about the difference between good and bad fats, and how your body needs levels of both. We always point out that it’s not just weight you want to lose. Countless times we’ve stated the positive impacts on your mental health, physical wellbeing and how your moods work.
Now, we’re going to talk about the effects exercise has on your bone mass, and why the two are important to enjoy a longer fulfilled life.
Regular exercise helps with protein synthesis which is the development of new lean muscle mass. We’ve said this before, but latest research now shows us that it is also a key contributor to the synthesis of bone. Osteoblasts which are the building blocks for new healthy bone tell the bone to secrete a hormone called osteocalcin which helps to produce stronger and healthier bones, and thus a stronger skeleton. This all relates back to our piece on homeostasis. If you’re aiming to improve your strength, your body picks up on this, and as muscles attach to bone through tendons it releases these hormones to strengthen the connection between the tissue. There’s no point having strong muscles if you have weak attachment sites right?
This may not seem so significant however, the skeleton provides many functions you wouldn’t normally think about. Obviously, it provides attachment sites for muscle to attach, and operate joints as levers for movement, but bones also store, and distribute physical energy. They store blood and bone marrow too, all of which are vital to your body’s daily survival.
This research has been going on since the 90s and is only just starting to make sense to the people heavily involved. A few things they have found however in fairly recent research is that osteocalcin is a key contributing hormone to brain health too. This means that healthier and more active people are less likely to have less of a cognitive decline with age, than sedentary people around the same age.
Normally, people don’t come to us and say ‘well I’ve read an article with regards to bone health so I’d like to train and increase my bone density’. This is because on the whole it’s not talked about that much, probably because it’s one of the lesser understood elements of the human body.
I remember I did have a client very early on in my career who was osteoporotic. This means her bones were fragile and prone to breaking down. I saw her there doing a completely supported hip adductor exercise (most pointless machine in any gym) so I asked her what her goals were and she told me of her condition. I suggested a couple of things and told her that load bearing exercise was what she needed to be doing. Cutting a long story short, to help with her condition she was under taking regular steroid injections and having to pick her way around life because of this condition. After 4 weeks of structured load bearing exercise and making alterations to her diet (weight loss wasn’t her goal here) she had a reduced count on her next set of injections which allowed the injections be administered further apart. Medically she was downgraded form osteoporotic to osteopenic which carries the same symptoms but to a lesser degree. This obviously contributed to her life by allowing her to do things she perhaps she never would, all from being given the right information and acting accordingly on it!
The bottom line with this is that it is massively overlooked because it’s not widely understood. We all however know the term ‘use it or lose it’. If you’re not subjecting your body to force, the nervous system sees no reason to be strong against it. This is again controlled by the homeostasis we talked about whereby, you subject your body to harder work and it doesn’t like it, so in a bid to suffer less next time it strengthens the relevant systems. The good news is, any exercise can contribute to this. All those NEAT things we suggest, using stairs and not lifts (sound advice in a pandemic anyway), walking to your local shop, or where you can. It doesn’t matter what the exercise is, but what we now know is, the more you move around and do active things, the more osteocalcin will come out of your bones and contribute to the development of new, strong bone tissue. Our BP@home online training group is an ideal way of motivating yourself to use it and not lose it, don’t rely on random on line workouts we offer structured online training sessions and meal plans.
Healthy bones, healthy muscle, healthy brain, 3 huge wins in life right there.