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Stay active during the holy month

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Aug 29, 2009
30-minute activity ideas you can fit into your daily Ramadan routine to keep your bones strong and healthy

During the holy month, it is easy to let all exercise habits fly out of the window, replacing them with a more sedentary lifestyle, and this will cause your muscles to get weaker. But did you know that your bones will get weaker too? Your bones are living tissue that respond to exercise by becoming denser and therefore stronger, according to experts.
One important way to help strengthen your bones is by making them 'work', and 'work' for bones means handling impact which in this case is the weight of your body. In fact, weight bearing exercise helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis which in turn will reduce the risk of bone injury and breaks in the future.

With the Ramadan routine, you may feel it is sometimes difficult to incorporate exercise into your day, or you fear feeling too tired or thirsty. Dr. Gemma Adib, President, Pan Arab Osteoporosis Society advises, "Don't think of exercise as a rigorous tiring activity; studies have shown that accumulating just half an hour of moderate intensity, like walking, over most days of the week promotes good health and keeps your bones strong."

"A brisk walk just before Iftar can be followed by a glass of water when you break your fast," suggests Lynn Al Khatib, Nutritionist, Nestlé Middle East. "It can be as simple as wearing comfortable shoes to the mall and walking around for half an hour before you shop for that special Iftar meal."

Another idea is to carry light groceries when you go to the supermarket. The weight of the groceries will be equal to resistance training for the upper body, benefiting your bones every time your muscles contract and de-contract. This easy activity will engage the bones of the arm: the humerus, radius and ulna.

"Additionally, you can use the stairs instead of the elevator. You can even do this with your kids and make it fun and competitive by counting stairs, thereby encouraging them to develop good habits too," adds Al Khatib. This type of weight bearing exercise strengthens the muscles of your legs and the bones connected to these muscles, namely the femur, patella, tibia and fibula, she explains.

If the family tends to station themselves in front of the TV following every Iftar meal, you can encourage them to get up from the couch and stretch and bend for a few minutes every hour. These flexibility exercises are good for posture, in addition to reviving blood circulation and building strong bones.

Of course, exercise has to be combined with the right nutrition, incorporating proper amount of calcium, or 1000 mg per day for adults, into the diet to ensure your bones remain strong and healthy. "This is equivalent to 2 cups of milk, and an additional dairy serving like 1 cup of yogurt or 2 slices of cheese or 2 tablespoons of Labneh every day," says Al Khatib. "Otherwise, two glasses of the fortified adult milk Nestlé NESVITA® pro-Bones can provide you with 100% of your daily calcium requirements in addition to other nutrients to help your body absorb it, like vitamin D and Magnesium."

Now that you know that every little bit of activity counts, you can encourage your family to be more active by your example. This will make it fun for them to be more active as well, ensuring better health and stronger bones for the whole family.
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