our bones need our attention!

04 Aug our bones need our attention!

What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the gradual and silent loss of bone and not a normal aging process. It is defined as a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture (NOF 2005). Osteopenia is mildly reduced bone mass–a loss of approximately 10%-20%–indicating the onset of osteoporosis.

A Question of Lifestyle
In my practice as a physical therapist and a Pilates instructor, I am finding that clients and even Pilates teachers are discovering they have osteoporosis at younger and younger ages. I used to treat osteoporosis only in nursing homes, but now I’m frequently seeing osteoporotic clients in outpatient facilities, Pilates studios, and health clubs where I teach Pilates mat classes. What are we doing wrong?

Evidence suggests that lifestyle is a major culprit. Studies have found that Americans do not engage in enough physical activity, are becoming obese and do not take in enough nutrients to support good bone health (Wright et al. 2003, Gordon-Larson et al. 1999). Researchers working on the China-Oxford-Cornell Project studied rural Chinese farm families for incidence of osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer and found that even with low calcium intake the incidence of these diseases was extremely low (Hu et al. 1994; Campbell 2005). In contrast, the researchers found a positive correlation between urbanized cultures and these illnesses, which Campbell has even dubbed “diseases of affluence” (Campbell 2005).

In the U.S. we base our habits of daily living on convenience and time management. We have computers for shopping; TVs to entertain us; and microwaves, washing machines, elevators, escalators, cars and high-tech devices to “save time” and to make our lives more efficient. But more efficiency means we are increasingly sedentary, and sedentary living is bad for our bones. We walk less, we bear less weight,…


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