We tend to think of our bones as being solid and unyielding. But the truth is your bones are living tissue with their own blood supply. And at their heart—in the marrow—blood cells, immune cells, bone and cartilage are all busily being created.
But there’s one more thing your bone marrow is churning out, and that’s fat. And until now scientists have been a bit puzzled over the exact role that marrow fat plays.
Most believed that bone fat, unlike the fat in the rest of the body, wasn’t used as an energy source to fuel exercise. But now a brand new animal study has experts questioning that theory.
And it’s left me wondering if I have fat bones.
You could be suffering from fat bones too
Because, according to a bizarre new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, any one of us could be suffering from fat bones. And it turns out exercise does burn through that fat that’s hiding deep inside your marrow.
But, according to researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine that’s not all it does. There’s strong evidence that this fat burning boosts bone quality AND quantity in just a matter of weeks, too. (More on that in a moment.)
And for those of us still holding on to a few too many pounds the benefits may be even bigger.
When obese mice—whose bone and fat producing stem cells are just like ours—were allowed to use an exercise wheel the amount and size of the fat cells in their marrow plummeted. In fact the change was so dramatic, the researchers say, that their marrow fat looked virtually identical to both lean mice AND lean mice that exercised.
Fat cells were slashed over 50%!
The number of fat cells in the marrow was slashed by over 50 percent in the roly poly rodents. Meanwhile there were no changes in the number of fat cells in the skinny minnie mice.
Now you may be asking at this point, “Why should I care?”
Simple. Higher levels of marrow fat can send your risk for fractures and other bone problems skyrocketing. That’s bad news at any age, but if you’re no longer a spring chicken you don’t need me to tell you that a broken bone could be devastating.
Which brings us back to that issue of bone quality and quantity I mentioned earlier.
Build better bones with exercise
Tests showed that the exercise didn’t just burn through bone marrow. It also improved the thickness of the bone. And once again it was the chubby mice that benefited most.
The scientists are exactly sure how this whole process works yet, and they’re already planning to do more research to figure it all out. But there’s no reason to wait around for those findings. You can start reaping the bone building rewards of exercise starting today.
Start by asking yourself what activities you enjoy doing the most. Do you love communing with nature? Walking, hiking or biking might be the right fit for you. Are you a water baby type? Perhaps water aerobics or lap swimming is more your style.
But don’t stop there, we’ve got even more suggestions for slipping some exercise into your day. Like our “No workout workout” or “Effortless exercise” routines for folks who hate to exercise, or those who simply don’t have the time. They will get your heart pumping without changing into sweatpants or setting a foot in the gym.
And if you’re stuck behind a desk most of the day you can stay fit and flexible with our fun chair exercises. Or give the cutting-edge short-burst exercise movement a try with these five 2-minute exercises that will help you get fit fast.
The point is you need to get up and get moving to burn through that bone fat, and you’ll be rewarded with better bone health no matter your age.