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Get Moving: Build bone density with functional fitness

by Maria Holee | September 13, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Maria Holee

In 2018, I had a desire and a passion to start what is called a JCCF Vitality Class at Jefferson City CrossFit. We have classes for children, adolescents and adults. We continue to modify movements for everyone to meet their abilities working to make their best better and health a priority. I wanted to do something more for the more experienced, wiser individuals in our community.

I interviewed these new members as they came into class to learn about their medical history and family, and then see how they move from walking to riding a stationary bike. Every single one of them range from their 60s to almost 80 years young. And now four years later, they make up my and Coach Jill's Vitality class. They have taught us more than we could probably ever teach them. They are all an inspiration that make us want to be better humans.

I still remember the first time I talked to Bea and her husband, Francis, in that introduction class. She said firmly: "Don't you ask me to get on the ground and get back up." I promised her I would never ask her to do anything I didn't think she would have the ability to do, and I would be there to help her the entire way.

Four years later, every one of them shows up, arrives on time -- or 15 minutes early -- ready to move with intention and discipline. Coach Jill and I guide them, and they always work to impress! They train for life by doing functional fitness with the workout of the day (WOD) at Jefferson City CrossFit.

CrossFit is known for the training of functional movement and longevity. It is an evidence-based exercise program using functional movement to increase work capacity over time with different skills and drills.

Functional movement is an exercise that uses multiple joints and muscles to move in full range of motion. They are movements that we do daily in life to survive.

We have the ball and socket joint for our hips and shoulders meant to move in a circular rotation. Are yours able to do that? Other functional movements include: sit down and stand up (squat); pick something up and put it down (deadlift); reach and lift overheard (press); or get down on the ground and stand back up (burpee). They teach you flexibility, balance and coordination.

If you don't move it, you lose it? Are you one that is worried if you get on the ground, you may not be able to get back up again? You may be in the group of 1 in 10 Americans who have that worry. And the fact is, at one point in your life, you were able to do this, then you spent too many days not doing it and now you can no longer physically do it. What are you going to do if you fall at home and need to call for help?

Why do we train functional movement in our CrossFit program? Did you know the first three decades of your life is when your body builds bone density. Bone formation occurs your first 30 years, and at that point, if you are not working to maintain or strengthen your bone density, you get the alternative -- bone degeneration, osteoporosis and osteopenia (muscle loss). Just as you do not lose a movement in one day, you also do not have a sudden loss of bone density in one day.

A bone density test measures how much calcium and bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. These tests will often be done on your hips or back, which are the densest bones in your body. Why do you think the most common fractures are that of feet, ankles, tibia fibias, fingers and toes, or the radius and ulna? Do you know what will increase longevity and quality of life? Strong bones!

When your bones are strong, you are 99 percent more likely to have stronger muscles. The muscles are what connects a bone to a bone and holds other muscular organs in place. If you work to strengthen your bones, you increase lean muscle mass and lower body fat percentage. When your upper body, midline, lower back and glutes are strong, you increase your flexibility, coordination and balance.

You can increase your bone density through weight-bearing exercise to slow bone loss. Activities like walking, weighted movements, bodyweight movements and running stimulate bone growth. Yes, functional movement increases bone density.

Eating the nutrients to feed your bone cells the vitamins and minerals they need to stay strong also increases bone density. You should eat meals high in vitamin C, which help your body absorb calcium. You should also eat foods that are high in magnesium, zinc and vitamin B -- eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables you can get our hands on. Go ahead and try it for a week.

In a daily meal, fill your plate 75 percent with fruits and vegetables. The other 25 percent should be proteins like lean fish and chicken to give you muscle building blocks of amino acids. Eat healthy fats like avocados, nuts, coconut and olive oil.

The healthier you are, the more you get to do the things you love. Find a community to help you get there. Train to live, and eat to perform. The rest will fall into place.

We only get one boat in this life, and we better work on rocking it. It's more fun to ride the waves than be sedentary. And here is a statement to leave you with: "Nobody ever says, I am just too darn strong."

Maria Holee and her husband, Jake Holee, own Jefferson City CrossFit, established in 2012. She is a Level 2 CrossFit Trainer, has conducted multiple seminars in weightlifting, was nominated for Zonta Women of Achievement in 2018, was fifth in nation in the 2016 U.S. Strongman and is trained in CrossFit Gymnastics. Holee is currently employed at Mainline Fire Protection of Jefferson City.

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