As a fitness and health educator since 2001, I’ve spent a lot of time in gyms. One thing that never ceases to concern me is seeing exercisers going through their workouts using poor form. Watching them perform dangerous, spine-crunching exercises including neck-pulls while doing sit-ups, squatting with rounded spines and heavy weights, and stretching in deep yoga poses makes me want to set off the fire alarm to get them to stop!!!
I know that these gym-goers are there to improve their health and look their best (who doesn’t want abs of steel???) but unfortunately because they or their fitness instructors are not well-informed, they are setting themselves up for the possibility of fractured back bones and chronic pain.
If you regularly follow me, you know that I stay away from “the sky is falling down” posts. I much prefer to uplift my readers. But as mostly thin, small-boned women over 50 who might have taken steroids or currently take them, we are at risk for osteoporosis. That’s not to say that younger women shouldn’t be concerned, too. I once had a client in her twenties who due to an eating disorder had advanced osteoporosis.
I am hoping that after reading this post, you might approach exercising with bone health in mind. Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Even if we fracture a vertebra, we probably won’t feel it. Then we go for our annual check-up and we see that we are shorter. A little loss of height is expected as we age and the cushy discs between our spine bones lose some of their fullness, but fracturing bones can often be prevented.
A fantastic site for educating ourselves about protective ways to exercise is the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation (www.nof.org). They give lots of recommendations for exercise modifications as well as the proper approach to activities of daily living such as lifting objects, sitting at the computer and even washing dishes!
The best suggestion is that we can become more aware of our posture. There is the likelihood that over time our back has become a little rounded and our head is not centered on our spine. The weight of our forward-positioned head can cause vertebrae compression. We can offset this by checking our posture throughout the day and doing back strengthening exercises.
The good news is we can slow or stop the progression of osteoporosis through education, awareness and new habits. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor and get medical clearance before stopping or starting a new exercise program.
It is never too late for us to educate ourselves, improve our posture and protect our bones!
Check out the videos and yoga modifications on the National Osteoporosis Foundation website: www.nof.org.
#bronchiectasis #osteoporosis #bonehealth #copd #exercise
Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.