The Busy Woman’s Osteoporosis Work Out
My step mother is BUSY. When she’s not jet setting about the place organising conferences or academics or teaching she’s at home tending to livestock including alpacas, and her giant garden. She doesn’t have time to have osteoporosis, or read a blog about it or even go to bone building exercise class so:
Alison, I've designed you a daily rib, lumber spine, wrist and hip strength program. It's a quick read and there are pictures. I've designed it so that you don't have to restructure your day, just what you do in the transition periods of your day.
So the first exercise is for when you are in the shower. It is a side stretch. Breathe into your upper rib cage, strengthening the muscles between the ribs. Let the muscles between rib and hip shorten to return you to upright. If you only do one each side that is an improvement on doing none. It is more important to do these movements every day than to focus on numbers. If you want to make it trickier later on, raise your arms above your head or stand one one leg or do both but for now - just side bend.
Then while waiting for your breakfast eggs to cook or for the jug to boil, you can do a bench front support hold. Here you lift yourself up on the bench and let your wrists support your weight, your elbow creases are forward, your finger tips push into the bench and your shoulder blades are wide, breathe and hang out for as long as you can in this position. You will progress to feet off the floor as this becomes easier and then jumps and pushes - but one step at a time.
When sitting down to eat, take three breaths filling your lungs with oxygen and expanding the rib cage in a seated chest expansion. Feel your weight on your sit bones, lift from the crown of your head, open your collar bones aaaand breathe. If you forget to do this now, that's OK - you will have many more chances throughout your day.
While you are brushing your teeth stand on one leg. Keep your weight in your heels, ribs down, knees soft/ not locked, if you feel up to it you can do small hops too, but we don’t need to get too enthusiastic yet.
When you get into the car you have another chance to do your seated chest expansion, this is great for opening your chest and strengthening your upper back and neck. Play with gently looking down and up, over each shoulder and resting your ear on your shoulder while you're at it.
And again, when sitting on the train, sit at the front of your seat stack your head and ribs over your hips and complete another seated chest expansion breathing into your back ribs as you do it.
Then, why walk up the hill to work when you can march? Focus on keeping your weight back and (when no one is looking) stamp your feet enthusiastically. The impact is what encourages osteoblasts to build more bone.
Once you get to work take the stairs. Here you can stamp without anyone thinking you are odd. Focus on engaging your tummy by imagining you are wearing a tight pair of trousers, keep your ribs down and imagine that there is a weight attached to your tail bone pulling it down.
Once you come to sit at your desk you can do another seated chest expansion. If stamping was too hard on your knees or ankles while walking then try some gentle seated stamps here.
And lastly, when standing up to teach remember to keep your weight over your heels and your ribs down. In a perfect world you would have neutral soled shoes so that your weight would run from your heel, to your knees through your hips. At least at home you can commit to being bare foot - right?
That is it! Repeat all of the above in reverse order and you have incorporated a whole lot of useful movement into your day.
PS: I’ll chat with Dad about getting you a doorway chin up bar for the kitchen-to-garage door so that you can hang for 10 seconds once you get home.
PPS: These illustrations aren't of you, they are of a realistic body shape for an older woman - or any woman for that matter. I had to draw them myself because all the images online were of white, young, skinny women and though white, young, skinny women are beautiful so too are older, bigger bodies of other ethnicities and don't all women have a right to move and be represented in the movement world?
I'll just step off my soapbox now
PPPS: A bone building, mineral dense* green smoothie recipe:
1. First grind brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, almonds and walnuts in a blender and keep this ground mix in a jar for easy future smoothie making, salad sprinkling, baking and porridge pimping .
2. Blend a mix of kale, spinach, banana, avocado, strawberries, dried apricot, prunes and tahini with the liquid of your choice (coconut water, regular water, almond milk, soy milk, cows milk..)
3. Add the ground nuts and taste the mix adding more fruit to sweeten, more liquid if the greens are still chunky.
Because this smoothie has avocado and banana in it it goes brown over the course of the day. You can make it without them and drink it over a few days and just have the other two as snacks. It is true that a smoothie will not be as nutritious consumed a day after made but you are busy. Let’s keep things real shall we?
* boron, copper, calcium, magnesium, manganese, nickel, vanadium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, silicon, zinc