“The only product that's worth investing in is a fully functional musculoskeletal system. It's no luxury but rather a basic necessity that's within everyone's reach.”
— Pete Egoscue
Understanding the Musculoskeletal System and Why it is Important
Bones and muscles make up the foundation of the human body and provide support and stability to the body and its organs. In other words, the human body is like a building and the pillars of this building is the musculoskeletal system, which consists of bones and muscles. These bones and muscles give structure to our body.
Complex functions of life are performed with the help of the musculoskeletal system, which is crucial for any kind of movement. A building with a weak structure or foundation would collapse in no time. Same is the case with the human body. If the bones and muscles in a human body are weak, it would not be able to perform all the vital functions and would ultimately crumble. Bone and muscle strength comes from proper nourishment and exercise.
Age is Inversely Proportional to Bone and Muscle Health
Age is the greatest rival of bone and muscle health. With increasing age, our bones lose density and muscles lose their tensile strength. This leads to restricted movement and balance, which increases the risk of falls and fractures. This is one of the reasons why older people are prone to fractures as well as diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis. As a result, daily activities become limited. Since increasing age decreases the reliability of bones and muscles, it is important to maintain and preserve them from a very young age by taking the right nutrients in sufficient amounts in addition to exercise that builds the musculoskeletal system. It is important to pay attention to these body parts all the time and not just when they are injured or damaged. Nutrition and lifestyle habits can help us build strong bones and muscles and maintain them as we age.
Importance of Nutrition in Bone and Muscle Health
Bone and muscle health is highly dependent on nutrition. A healthy diet that contains all the essential nutrients helps maintain the musculoskeletal system and strengthens the bones and muscles. However, if we are not getting the right nutrients, we are putting ourselves at a greater risk of bone and muscles diseases.
The key nutrients for optimum bone and muscle health include vitamin A, B, D and K, calcium, protein, magnesium and zinc.
Foods for Building Strong Bones
Calcium and vitamin D are the most important nutrients in this regard. Approximately, 1,000 mg of calcium and 200 units of vitamin D are recommended for adults every day. Although both calcium and vitamin D can be taken in supplements, it is best to obtain them from a healthy diet. Following are the most common food items that are rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Most yogurts are rich in vitamin D and if the brand is good, 30% of the daily calcium intake can be obtained from yogurt.
Cow's milk is naturally rich not only in vitamin D but also A, E, and K. According to National Institute of Health, one cup provides 15% of the day’s recommended vitamin D intake.
Salmon and Tuna
Salmon is good for the heart as well as bones. 3 ounces of salmon contains more than the required daily dose of vitamin D. Tuna is also a good source of vitamin D, however, it contains less vitamin D as compared to salmon.
One cup of cooked spinach contains 25% of the recommended daily dose of calcium. It also contains sufficient amount of fiber, iron and vitamin A.
Some store-bought orange juice and cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and calcium. Make sure to read the ingredients before buying.
Foods for Building Strong Muscles
Intake of protein is crucial for the development of strong muscles in addition to strength-training exercises at the gym. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the recommended daily dose of protein for women is 46 grams. A diet rich in protein can also help us lose weight since proteins build muscles and muscles burn fat. Some of the best sources of protein include lean meats, fish, Greek yogurt, eggs and nut butter.
Physical Activity to Strengthen the Musculoskeletal System
Apart from nutrition, physical activity is also very important when it comes to building bone and muscle strength. The more we engage our muscles and bones in physical activity, the stronger they get. When we exercise on a daily basis, our body adapts to it by increasing its bone and muscle mass. There are a number of exercises that can help strengthen bones and muscles, however, two of them are most effective: weight-bearing and strength-training exercises. These exercises are site-specific and target different areas of the body.
High-impact weight-bearing exercises work directly on the bones in our legs, hips and lower spine. They also provide cardiovascular benefits, which boost the heart function and the circulatory system. Brisk walking and hiking, jogging/running, dancing, skipping, hopscotch, tennis, badminton, Ping-Pong, pickle ball and team sports such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball are some examples of weight-bearing exercises.
Many studies have shown that the more muscle mass we have, the higher our resting metabolic rate will be. So unlike traditional cardio, strength-training gives us an after burn. This means that the body will continue to burn calories for up to 72 hours after we are done working out. Strength-training exercises include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, heavy gardening such as digging and shoveling, climbing stairs, hiking, cycling, push-ups, sit-ups and squats, etc. HH
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