Osteoporosis and Weight Bearing Exercises

We all know that the skeletal system is the structural framework of your body giving us the shape and the posture. The bone, like any other tissue undergoes the cycle of breaking down and being replaced by new tissue. However as we age this balance is often disrupted and the breaking down weighs more than the replacement resulting in a condition termed as OSTEOPOROSIS.

Healthy bone & Osteoporotic bone
How common is Osteoporosis?

Over 61 million Indians have osteoporosis and over 80% are women!

After the age of 30, we start losing the bone density. In fact women will lose up to 20% of bone density in 5-7 years after menopause. And by 65 men and women lose bone density at the same rate.

How serious is the problem?

Loss of bone density sometimes causes life-threatening or life changing fractures of spine or hip. Sometimes the fracture in the spine will not have a fall behind it ,instead the bone just crumples resulting in pain, stooped posture and lose of height. Osteoporosis is the single most common cause of fracture in the elderly population. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 sec.

However there is a good news! We can prevent or delay the onset of osteoporosis by proper & regular exercises.


1.Weight Bearing exercise: Exercises that include activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright are weight bearing exercises.

2.Strength training exercises: Activities where you move your body, weight or some resistance against gravity are strength training exercises.

Weight Bearing Exercise and Bone Density:

Numerous studies have shown that weight-bearing exercise can help to slow bone loss, and several show it can even build bone. Bone responds to the forces applied to it. This includes the force generated by the muscles/tendon or against gravity. Such activities that put stress on bones stimulate extra deposits of calcium and nudge bone-forming cells into action. The result is stronger, denser bones. When you walk, run, hop, and skip, you are pushing against gravity in order to move. The impact of your every step sends a signal to bone to grow stronger to help keep you moving.

What are the types of weight bearing exercises?

Weight bearing exercise can be low impact as in low impact aerobics, elliptical trainer, fast walking or high impact as in jumping, skipping, running, high impact aerobics, tennis. While the high impact exercises help build the bone it is not advisable for elderly with known history osteoporosis. Low impact exercises also help in building the bones and muscles.

What should be avoided if you have osteoporosis?

A person with osteoporosis has weakened bones that are prone to fracturing. They should avoid activities that:

  • involve loaded forward flexion of the spine such as abdominal sit-ups
  • increase the risk of falling
  • require sudden, forceful movement, unless introduced gradually as part of a progressive program
  • require a forceful twisting motion, such as a golf swing, unless the person is accustomed to such movements.

Regular exercise program is an essential part of Osteoporosis treatment. The impact of the exercises on the bone density is time and again proved by many researchers. However, it is strongly recommended to get the right advice on starting an exercise schedule from your doctor or physiotherapist before you start.

Sunandha Sampathkumar
Sunandha Sampathkumar

Masters in Physiotherapy, Wellness Coach for Seniors

A Note from a Journalist!

Mrs.Shailaja Pradeep Ganguly took up a trial class with Growing Young and that one hour of interaction was enough for her to trust us and join us! She has taught journalism & creative writing at Sophia College Open Classroom. She was on the General Body and preliminary selection committee of international films for children & young adults for the childrens’s film society. She has also produced Air India’s in flight India music for almost 7 years.Currently Mrs.Shailaja edits, translates ,writes & creates videos for Sri Chitrapur Math.Despite her packed schedule, she has always ensured to be regular to the sessions.She is truly an inspiring personality who has never stopped dreaming. Mrs.Shailaja has recently completed her intensive theatre workshop in acting with actor Neeraj Kabi, so rightly proving that 60 is just a milestone to unleash your creativity. Here she shares a little about herself and also her experience with us!

I, Me , Myself

Mrs.Shailaja Pradeep Ganguly

From an ignorant age when I thought that a female writer is called a ‘writeress’, I knew this is what I wanted to be. A guardian angel must have said “tathaastu” for my attempts at word craft, whether it was on paper or orally on stage, started bringing in laurels even before I passed out of school. I was declared Best Student of the college too and after a tiny bout of teaching began my real affair with the print medium when I joined the Times of India, Mumbai as a sub-editor with FEMINA. That was an exciting time because feminism was just touching Indian shores and FEMINA was telling every woman that she had the right to explore her individual potential and talent even as she balanced her roles as wife, daughter-in-law and mother. Alongside, I also taught creative writing in a long weekly session at a reputed College.

With Jaya Bachchan

With Gulzar Sahab

When I became Deputy Editor, I  began to create and present many interesting programmes for both Akashvani and black and white television on personalities, social and medical issues and the creative and performing arts. I also began anchoring programmes of classical music and dance and have held the mike for India’s finest vocal and instrumental artistes and crème de la crème dancers. My interest in physical fitness was rather rudely awakened by the cervical pain which began to bother me because of long hours at the typewriter in an air-conditioned office. When the topmost orthopaedic in town told me this was spondylitis and that I now had to be careful for life and would possibly have sudden ‘blackouts’, I knew it was time to take stock.

With Amitabh Bachan

Being an anti-pill person I learnt some physiotherapic moves from a friend in a Sports-hospital and also joined yoga classes. I was soon off the collar and have never had a blackout till date.  After shifting homes, while I continued with my daily yoga at home and with all other activities outside, I had to go freelance and become a care-giver for my husband who had developed certain physical disabilities. In that period, for several years I produced Air-India’s in-flight music for which I was script-writer and female anchor, under contract with HMV.

The pandemic year brought me three awards and a welcome introduction to ‘Growing Young’. I was declared Woman Icon of Navi Mumbai, felicitated for my achievements in Journalism and Creative Writing and given a prize for the best write-up on learning a skill in 2020 by a Senior-Citizen Welfare Group -Unmukt, Delhi. I still write, edit, anchor, but I was feeling an acute need to join an exercise group for a regular work-out. That is when, like a karmic signal, Growing Young suddenly popped out of a Facebook ad, I attended the free session and now, here I am, enjoying every minute of it !

Women Icon Award 2020

Growing Young

Cheerful faces, welcome smiles, warm greetings….Sunandha and Viji- the two fitness Gurus of ‘Growing Young’ definitely project both the exuberance and confidence which convince a new entrant that he or she has reached the right take-off point to get swift results from the resolution to work towards a more ‘obedient’ body.

In the hour that follows, the class is taken through four packed segments of expressing body language – through warm-ups, stretches using different aids like weights or a stick, aerobics, modified asanas and breathing techniques and to conclude – a little module of relaxation to leave you refreshed, rejuvenated and raring to go…

The best part of this pep-up routine is that one trainer watches every student as the other conducts the class. This ensures that each learner’s posture for a particular movement is perfect and also enables the instructor to tell anyone who is getting over-tired to take a tiny breather.

The bouquet of grateful “Thank-you”-s that appears on Whatsapp after every class is proof enough that this dynamic duo is destined to go places!

Shailaja Pradeep Ganguly
Shailaja Pradeep Ganguly

Retd Deputy Editor ,Femina

Get Your Balance Right!

couple practicing yoga
Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

Did you know that while standing, staying upright and walking may look a simple act, at the background our body systems have to perform a complex integration to make it into a successful action! The fear of fall is the main reason cited by seniors for limited mobility and independence. Studies have proved that exercises to improve balance can reduce the rate of fall by 36% in our elderly population.

How do we manage to balance?

Balance is all about maintaining our Centre of gravity over the base of support! And to achieve this, we need 3 systems to work together:

  1. Sensory input from the eyes
  2. Sensory input from the ears i.e the vestibular apparatus
  3. Sensory input from the muscles and joints

The input from all these three sources are integrated in our cerebellum and the command is passed to the muscles to stay upright.

Why does balance reduce as we age?

When the sensory input from any of the three systems is affected or there is a decline in the function of the cerebellum or the muscles are weak to respond to the command from the brain, balance gets affected.

However, the most common reason is, NOT CHALLENGING THE SYSTEM ENOUGH! If poor balance is associated only with old age, then all seniors will have balance problem. However, we see many seniors taking up a sport/ dance after they age. If we don’t regularly put ourself in situations where we need to use balance, our sense of balance diminishes with disuse. As we age, there is a drastic reduction in the physical activity, which reduces the challenges that is posed on the system and over a period of time, there is a gradual decline in the balance.

Can we regain the balance?

The answer is YES, improving the upper and lower body strength along with challenging the balance system daily with activities that require the use of all the three systems will improve balance to a great extent.

Some quick tips to do balance activity at home:

  1. Check with the doctor, if there is a more serious balance problem like vertigo, ear infections, chronic dizziness, Meniere’s disease or drug interactions.
  2. Get the advice of a physiotherapist to learn the exercises and do it the right way!
  3. If you are very poorly balanced, ensure that a care giver is always next to you when you exercise.
  4. Always use a sturdy chair for support. Initially hold with two hands, and when comfortable move to single hand support and then with fingers and slowly remove your hand from the chair.
  5. Avoid fast movements.
  6. Be aware of your posture.
  7. As the base of support reduces the challenge also increases. Start with a wider base and slowly reduce the base of support.
  8. Progress the exercises, when the previous exercise becomes comfortable and you are confident of doing it without assistance.
  9. Begin the training with eyes open, and gradually progress with eyes closed as it is more challenging.
  10. If you are under any medications, ask the doctor if there are any side effects which may cause light headedness or decreased balance.

Start slowly and become used to the new experience of stressing the balance system. Our body follows a simple mantra, “Use it or lose it”. Doing balance exercises regularly, has many benefits like, reducing the risk of fall, more independence, involving in activities we love, better reaction time, increased coordination and many more.

Don’t take your balance for granted! Challenge your body and regain the balance and a much deserved independence!

Sunandha Sampathkumar
Sunandha Sampathkumar

Co Founder, Growing Young

Exercise is THE IMMUNE BOOSTER that the world needs now!

syringe and pills on blue background
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The vaccines are finally here! But the big question is, how well prepared are our elderly to receive the vaccine?

Since the escalation of the COVID-19, over a billion people across the world have faced restrictions due to varying degree of confinement. This confinement has forced our seniors devoid of physical activity and increase in sedentary behaviour. Social Isolation has had a major impact on the mental health, incidence and progression of non-communicable diseases and lower immunity.

And since our elderly are already associated with a decline in normal functioning of the immune system described as ‘immunosenescence’, the effects are double-folded for this age group. This  can contribute to poorer vaccine response and increased incidence of infection  seen in older people.

According to researchers at the University of Bath, stay at home should not mean that people should stop exercising. Keeping up with regular, daily exercise will impact and play a vital role in helping maintain a healthy immune system, which will in turn work effectively following vaccination.

Having an active immune system to counter infections and to respond actively to vaccination is the need of the hour during this pandemic. And in general, it is widely accepted that exercise plays a key role in building immunity. It is proven that bouts of exercise enhance immune surveillance. The haemodynamic changes produced due to exercise facilitate the activation of immune response. While the immune system responds to single bout in a transitory way, it is likely that these effects accumulate over time and produce immunological adaptations. Regular exercise can enhance vaccination response increase T-cells and boost the function of the natural killer cells in the immune system. Also, our skeletal muscles are an important immune regulator which is activated by regular exercise specifically, strengthening exercise.

Regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, running or cycling is recommended, with the aim of achieving 150-300 minutes per week. Resistance exercise atleast twice a week, has clear benefits for maintaining muscles, which also helps movement. Given the current scenario, it is also important to maintain good personal hygiene while exercising.

In addition to getting MODERATE EXERCISE there are plenty of things you can do to boost your immunity and reduce your odds of getting sick and also be better prepared to receive the vaccine:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat healthy and balanced diet.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get good sleep
  • Wear a mask
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Maintain a safe physical distance between yourself and other people

So what are you waiting for?  Move more, be active, stay fit, boost your immunity and wait for the vaccine to free us from the clutches of the pandemic!

Yes! Don’t stop exercising….It is more important NOW THAN EVER to stay active!  Your immune system will thank you!

Sunandha Sampathkumar
Sunandha Sampathkumar

Co-Founder,Growing Young
Senior Wellness Coach