This weekend, we’re focusing on the upper body with an exercise that works the shoulders and upper back. It’s also excellent for the arms.
By targeting these areas, the Standing Shoulder Strengthener And Posture Corrector flattens the thoracic vertebrae and stretches the chest, allowing the lungs to expand freely for deep breathing. It also aligns the shoulders to help reverse and prevent a hunchbacked appearance (kyphosis).
Why work the upper body as part of your bone-strengthening regimen? There are quite a few reasons why it should not be overlooked in the fight against osteoporosis. In fact, a just-published study uncovers a surprising benefit that was recently discovered by researchers at the University of California.
So let’s tap into the whys and hows of this weekend’s challenge!
Posture and deep breathing go hand-in-hand not only with each other, but also tie in with key health principles in your fight against osteoporosis and osteopenia. This may surprise some of you who think of weight-bearing and high-impact exercises alone as being effective at building bone.
Don’t get me wrong – weight-bearing exercise (including high-impact) is very important in the stimulation of new bone formation. But there are other forms of exercise that are just as important for different reasons, which we’re going to explore next.
Posture concerns many Savers who worry about kyphosis, or Dowager’s Hump. While this condition is not necessarily correlated with or caused by osteoporosis, it can occur along with decreasing bone density. Kyphosis is more frequently the result of poor posture, and posture is highly correctable with the right exercises.
However, there are associations between kyphosis and osteoporosis; that’s why it’s discussed so frequently on this site. While it’s not so much an issue of low bone density causing kyphosis, the two conditions are connected in several ways.
First, kyphosis in combination with low bone density can make you much more prone to fractures. The awkward, bent-forward position throws you off balance, making you more prone to falling. And if your bone strength is compromised, such falls are more likely to result in fracture. Research published in the Journal of Bone Mineral Research shows a strong connection between kyphosis and fracture, both spinal and non-spinal.1
Second, kyphosis causes the bones in the upper back (the thoracic vertebrae) to become misaligned, and misaligned bones cannot respond to healthy force from gravity and muscle by becoming stronger. Therefore, the lack of stimulation (and stimulation in the wrong places) can lead to pain and weakened bones.
Third, research from the United Chiropractic Association (UCA) shows that kyphosis can actually shorten your lifespan.2 The reason may lie at least in part with the next point…
Fourth, poor posture and kyphosis do not allow you to draw deep breaths, thereby depriving your body of life-sustaining oxygen and the alkalizing, stress-relieving effects of deep breathing. New research elucidates the well-known connection between deep, slow breaths and feeling calm by uncovering the “why” as to this phenomenon.
Key Neurons Link Breathing To Tranquility, Study Shows
When you take slow, deep breaths, a cluster of neurons in your brain is triggered, research shows. These special brain cells are also activated by breathing phenomena such as sobbing, yawning, gasping, laughing, and sighing. These neurons can pick up the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) differences in these various types of breathing and send corresponding messages to the locus coeruleus.
The locus coeruleus is a collection of neurons that projects its influence throughout the entire brain, regulating responses like fear, attention, and panic.
So essentially, according to researcher and biochemistry professor at the University of California, Dr. Mark Krasnow, this bundle of neurons – 175 of them to be exact – inform the rest of the brain as to what’s happening elsewhere in your body. They seem to “spy” on your breathing patterns, and then take that information to regulate your sense of calm.3
To illustrate this, the scientists removed the key neurons that pick up signals from rapid, shallow, excitable breathing from mice. With these neurological “spies” removed, the mice were much calmer. Without the neurons acting as go-betweens, in other words, the mice’s breathing patterns did not signal a subsequent stress response in the body.3
Remember, all of this is tied to good posture, because without it, you can’t take those stress-relieving breaths your bones so desperately need. To learn more about how stress affects your bones, please read the following post, which is one of many on this topic:
Now for the Standing Shoulder Strengthener And Posture Corrector, so you can start on your journey to better posture, improved breathing, and stronger bones!
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your arms up over your head and make a fist, as if grabbing hold of something.
- Pull your arms down, deliberately using all the muscles in your upper back, arms, and chest to slowly pull your arms down, bending your elbows and keeping your palms facing forward.
- Open your hands and raise your arms up over your head once again. Repeat the pulling down motion 10 to 20 times (more or less, depending on your fitness and comfort level).
Feel free to repeat this exercise throughout your exercise routine, which can also include these other Weekend Challenges that perform similar functions:
More Postural Exercises
You’ll find a number of upper-body moves in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System in addition to weight-bearing and resistance exercises that cover the rest of the skeleton and build bone density.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or ideas about today’s topic.
I hope you’ll enjoy the challenge and the weekend!
1 Kado, Deborah M., MD, MS, et al. Hyperkyphosis, Kyphosis Progression, and Risk of Non-Spine Fractures in Older Community Dwelling Women: The Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF).” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. October 2014. 29(10): 2210-2216. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4177348/
2 United Chiropractic Association. “Warning that bad Posture caused by mobile device use could shorten your life.” March 2014. Web. PDF
3 Yackle, Kevin, et al. “Breathing control center neurons that promote arousal in mice.” Science. 335. 6332. 31 March 2017. 1411-1415. Web. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6332/1411