Bone Density…

Anything Orangutans Can Do, We Can Do Better?… After the break…

Bone Density…

I’ll be honest but I don’t think about the density of the bones in my skeleton. Sorry. Does that make me a bad patient?

To be completely fair, I’m not certain how many other people think about the density of their own bones. It’s just not something that you tend to worry about unless you are an older individual or if you have a medical condition where bone density becomes really, really important for your quality of life.

Bone density, though, is not a trivial matter. Do you know those little old ladies who walk past you with a hunched back? It’s not a fad amongst the older set but a condition called osteoporosis. It means that the bones are wearing out and, as a result, things like posture radically changes. It’s the same reason why everyone holds their breath when a 70-year old falls down as opposed to a 6-year old. Yes, injuries to a 6-year old are also bad but, odds are, there aren’t many 6-year olds breaking a hip because they lost their balance and smacked into the ground as opposed to 70-year olds.

It’s well known amongst the scientific community that humans don’t have fantastic bone density. We could be, as a species, doing far better… And we were, at least a long time ago. The bone density of our ancestors (ancestors, as in tens of thousands of years ago as opposed to Grandma and Grandpa) were supposedly fantastic on the scale of modern-day orangutans. So what’s happened? How has our bone density gone downhill for so long?

There is growing body of evidence that our diet and lack of exercise are to blame. We sit too much and eat (or overeat) all of the wrong foods. Sure, there are some factors that can’t be avoided (ladies, for instance, are on the losing end of the fight against brittle bones as their bones get weaker faster than that of the typical male) but, for the most part, we’re just lazy. We’re not challenging ourselves enough physically.

There’s a real danger in over-exercising. Muscles can only rebuild so quickly. Too much damage is as bad as not taxing your muscles at all. Standing for too long can damage your legs and arteries as much as hardly standing up.

At the end of the day, we’re learning that there’s no reason why we can’t be as strong as an orangutan in today’s society, with our present physiology. We’re just not challenging ourselves early enough, often enough and with a high-enough level of intensity. I’m not certain how practical such a discovery is for older people or even people past the so-called prime age (30 years old) of bone density. However, knowing our limits is a start. Now, we have to start finding a way to get there.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City and his attempted ban on sodas might not have been successful, but bone density isn’t a laughing matter, either. Ask a hip replacement specialist or their patients if bone density is a trivial matter for them. Some day, it won’t be a trivial matter for many of us.

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