Time waits for no man, and especially fleeting are the times of our youth. Science have been actively researching on ways to reverse aging, or at least preserve what our younger days have given us. This month, we celebrate National Teenager Day by dedicating this article to all the growing teenagers out there on how to build and maximise your capacity for better preservation in the later years.
Critical developmental periods
Did you know that your bone density stops increasing around the age of 25? This means that most of your bone density improvements happen before the age of 25 and gradually dwindles in rate of improvement until it stops increasing altogether.
At that point, your bone density is fixed for life and can only degenerate or be preserved from then onwards. This is also why the elderly is more injury-prone when they fall due to their brittle bones. Thus, the period from adolescent to age 25 marks a critical period to build up one’s bone density!
How is bone density built?
Studies have shown that about 90% of your bone density is gained by the age of 18, though the process continues all the way till age 25, albeit slower.
You may ask, what are some of the exercises to build up bone density then? Well, in the same way muscles are built, the bones must also be stressed to undergo growth. One can stress muscles by working on them through various physical activities, but how does one stimulate the bones? The answer lies in impact. Research explains that bones adapt to the stress and undergo bone formation to build denser bones.
When the bones go through weight-bearing exercises, osteocytes in the bone detect the impact and start to trigger bone remodeling. During bone remodeling, the bone cells osteoblasts, work to strengthen by adding bone layers while osteocytes remove old bones. This process regulates the bone formation and ensures homeostasis.
Exercises to stimulate your bones
As mentioned, weight-bearing exercises or impact-sports introduce the required stimuli for bones to grow in mass. Weight-bearing exercises are work-outs that move against gravity. These can come in the form of dancing, running or even climbing the stairs. Higher impact exercises include plyometric, backpacking, or rope-jumping.
The impact is good for bones to grow stronger, but caution does need to be exercised because not all bodies are ready for high-impact exercises. There are some exercises that may prove too stressful for an unprepared body and may be more detrimental than beneficial. For example, plyometric exercises should only be done by conditioned athletes and/or are guided by professionals who understand the safety measures of conducting a high-impact exercise.
But under professional supervision, plyometric exercises can be a great tool to improve bone density mass. In fact, one study from Brigham Young University in 2015 cited that jumping is so effective, distinct improvement in hip bone mass density can be seen in women even from ages 25 to 50! A simple regime of jumping 10-20 times a day is reported to produce observable results in one’s bone mass density. If embarking on an entirely new sport or work-out seem too intimidating, try jumping for starters and work your way up to longer, higher intensity work-outs.
Do remember to always exercise caution when working with impact sports especially when age catches up. High impact exercises can overstress one’s joints if not carried out properly or if performed at an older age. One’s body weight also counts as an additional stress for the joints during weight-bearing exercises. Therefore, overweight individuals should be careful to seek professional help in finding a suitable regime.
We cannot go against time, but we can make the best out of what we have now. Even if you are past the age of 25, you can still work to better preserve your body. Find out how you can invest in your health today.
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