Pilates plus weights = better bone health
When we undertake any form of exercise or play sport, most people's focus is usually on building muscle strength and stamina with little thought as to the underlying framework to which these muscles attach. Bones may seem like hard, lifeless structures within our bodies, but they are living tissue that also responds to exercise by becoming stronger.
Throughout our life, our bones cells are continually breaking down and renewing with bone mass peaking for most people whilst in their 30s. However, as we age, we start to lose bone density as the old cells are broken down faster than new cells can be replenished. While this is normal, excessive net bone loss can lead to osteopenia (a lower than average bone density) and possibly osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become thinner and weaker increasing the risk of fractures and breaks.
1 in 2 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures
1 in 5 men over 50 will experience osteoporotic factures.
Weight bearing exercise is one of the factors - along with a healthy diet that includes calcium and vitamin D - that can help us to maintain good bone health. When we use weights or resistance in our Pilates sessions, be that using small hand or ankle weights, resistance bands or just using our own body weight, it causes our muscles to pull on to the bones to which they are attached. This gives the bones work to do and it's this pull that stimulates the bones to renew and become stronger. With regular activity, the muscles get stronger, increasing the pull on the bones which, in turn, is likely to increase the strength of the bones.
Please advise your instructor if you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis as some Pilates exercises are unsuitable for these conditions. You can find further information on both of these conditions at The Royal Osteoporosis Society website.