Bone building exercises

Bone building exercises

In my last post about improving bone health and slowing the effects of ageing, I shared what to eat following the 5 element diet in Chinese Medicine.
In this blog post I will share what we can do to strengthen the whole skeleton and prevent bone thinning,

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone. This affects men and women, but women who are just past menopause, are at highest risk.

Studies show that the right type of activity and movement is critical to maintain bone density and strength. What works best is load bearing exercises such as squats, leg presses and lifting weights. These are standard practices in gym’s, where people use equipment to build body mass, muscle and bone strength. However as a 53 year old menopausal woman, that wouldn’t be my kind of thing at all. I don’t want the fuss and bother of going to gym, working out how to use special equipment and perhaps even injuring myself in the process. So I use my own body weight and gravity as resistance training to improve muscle and bone strength. This can be as effective as training in a gym with weights or weight machine.

Why not try it?

Every morning in Chi Flow with Jo, over 400 of us practice simple, effective exercises, just like the one in the video, to build healthy bones, muscle mass and core strength. All that is required is concentration on coordinated movements and breathing. No special equipment, no special expertise and no previous experience. (sign up for free class at the end of this post)

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Tiger what tiger?

The deeply focused and relaxed states we attain in Chi Flow with Jo also help regulate the nervous system. When the body is under stress or fearful situations such as running away from tigers, the body flushes out calcium and magnesium because these chemicals are not needed in the flight of fight response. 

Every so often, this is no problem, as how many tigers do we generally encounter! but if the body is responding to every day events such as project deadlines or dinner on the table as if it were being chased by a tiger, then this is a serious problem.

As I discussed in my last blog about food for strong bones, calcium and magnesium are the two minerals essential for bone strength.
5% of calcium and magnesium is transported around the body in the blood, the rest is stored in the bones. If the flight or fight response is constantly being triggered, and the calcium and magnesium being flushed from our system, eventually the body will have to go looking to the bones for the calcium and magnesium to restore the body to balance.  This is just one of the bone weakening effects stress can have on our body.

To prevent this mineral loss and bone thinning, we must maintain our emotional, mental and physical balance, learn how to self soothe and return to calm after stressful anxious times. Chi Flow with Jo with breath and movement coordination, activates the naturally occurring emotional and physical mechanisms of self-repair and health recovery.

In postmenopausal women, studies show moderate exercise helps preserve bone mass in the spine and prevents fractures, plus it shows increasing physical activity can improve your mood and stop the loss of minerals at times of stress.

Add to this that women who are not physically active are more likely to have heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Sedentary women may also have chronic back pain, insomnia, poor circulation, weak muscles, and depression.

Happy hormones

Endorphins which are morphine-like substances found naturally within the body, account for moods of well-being or euphoria such as we experience after enjoyable workouts or even eating chocolate.  These happy hormones, are released in the brain and this improved mood can last for several hours which in turn helps the body fight stress.  Qi Gong and Chi Flow with Jo will boost these happy hormones to improve your mood and your mental strength. Research conducted by Harvard Medical School indicates that regular Qi/Chi gong practice is a safe and effective way to maintain bone density, relieve pain, improve balance and the ability to do daily activities.

Here’s what some members of Chi Flow had to say

“I can’t recommend this highly enough, a great way to support your body and just in half an hour – go on you deserve it. Best thing I’ve signed up for in years!” Solway Shiatsu

“Totally recommend Chi Flow with Jo. I started the practice last October and my body feels well and flexible.” Maighread

“I do them 3+ times a week and it makes a HUGE difference to my energy levels and general health & coping skills.
Give it a go for a month and see the difference.”  Helen

Bone Strengthening Foods

Bone Strengthening Foods

As we grow older there’s no escaping the changes that happen to our body, however we can do things to slow this ageing process and the worries we have about it.

Thinning, weakening and brittle bones are one of the dreaded markers of ageing. More than half of all caucasian women age 50 and older are estimated to have low bone mass, which means their bones are getting weaker but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.  If not addressed, everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, opening jars, walking, reaching for high shelves can become difficult and filled with fear for people whose bones have developed osteoporosis.


Chinese medicine with it’s 5 element food medicine, Qi Gong and Acupressure can help you manage the physical, mental and emotional transitions of ageing. For the month of December we will be practicing Qi Gong and Acupressure to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.

Im 54 and I have been using Chinese Medicine for over 25 years and I share here how this system of holistic health keeps my bones strong.

From about age 25 to age 50, bone density tends to stay stable with equal amounts of bone formation and bone breakdown. After age 50, bone breakdown outpaces bone formation and bone loss often accelerates, particularly at the time of menopause. The risk increases at menopause, when levels of bone-bolstering oestrogen fall. Men are also at risk as even though they don’t usually experience dramatic hormonal change, because life expectancy continues to rise, men over the age of 70 can experience slow, progressive bone loss.


In Chinese Medicine, the body and it’s organs are divided into five energetic systems or elements; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of these elements have a time of day, a season, a flavour, a sensory organ and a body part. The water element is linked to the Kidney and Bladder which in turn govern the spine, the bones, brain, reproductive organs, hormonal and nervous system.

Therefore Osteoporosis, in Chinese Medicine would essentially be treated by supporting the Water element and the Kidney System, the flavour for which is salty.

What can we eat?
Let’s look at foods that have a salty flavour and would support the energetic Kidney system and most importantly, the bones.
Obviously salt has the saltiest of flavours so making sure we have enough good natural sea salt in our diet is essential. Because sea salt is minimally processed it contains minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and most importantly for bones, calcium. It also helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body.

However too much of a good thing can tip the yin yang balance so don’t over do the salt by eating foods packed with refined table salt such as crisps (chips) popcorn, pre-packaged ready meals, processed, smoked or canned meat, such as bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, and sausage as this can have the reverse effect and increase blood pressure and weaken bones.

Foods with a salty flavour usually have a high mineral content so eating these foods rather than relying on salt alone will mean your bones stay strong. Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health. However, there are other minerals such as copper, magnesium, boron, iron, potassium and zinc that play an important role as well. The good news is that a balanced diet that include salty tasting foods such as

  • miso
  • bone broth
  • oats
  • barley
  • oysters
  • broccoli & green leafy veg
  • daikon radish
  • dandelion root
  • chicory root
  • adzuki beans
  • celery
  • wheatgrass, barley grass
  • sesame seeds
  • eggs
  • spiriulina
  • and my favourite, seaweed

should meet your daily magnesium and calcium requirements.

Studies show “Magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis directly by acting on crystal formation and on bone cells and indirectly by impacting on the secretion and the activity of parathyroid hormone and by promoting low grade inflammation.”*
All edible seaweeds contains high amounts of magnesium and calcium in a format that’s super easily absorbed by the body. This mineral rich, salty flavoured food will really nourish the kidneys and the whole skeletal system.

You can find lots of seaweed plus salty food recipes and full list of kidney supporting in my 5 element cook books that cover the colours, the foods, emotions, seasons, acupressure points, and energy exercises for each specific organ and system.

I eat seaweed every day, whether sprinkled on eggs or avocado or larger flakes added to stews and rice as they cook.

For the whole month of December we will be practicing Bone Marrow Qi Gong, learning acupressure points and sharing food medicine to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.

Exercise is an important aspect of bone strength you can read more in my next blog or even sign up for a special bone building Qi Gong class at the end of November.

Qigong, combines gentle movements, controlled breathing, and focused meditation. It is designed to cultivate and balance the body’s life force energy, promoting overall well-being. 

Every journey starts with a single step, let a simple daily Qi Gong practice guide you on a transformative path towards renewed vitality, fortified bones, and a joyful heart connected life.

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