As good as regular exercise is for your muscles, it’s equally as important for your bone strength as well. The human body tends to lose its bone density naturally with age. This increases the risk of falls, pains, and other bone-related conditions. Exercise is an amazing way to condition your body; it benefits you regardless of your gender and age. Regular workout doesn’t only delay the process of aging but reverses its effects.
Same as your muscles, human bones are made up of living tissue that responds to physical movements. People who work out regularly tend to have greater bone mass (higher bone density and strength) compared to those who don’t. Bone mass peaks for most people in the third decade of their life. The body tends to lose it naturally after that. Bone loss is a silent condition and it occurs without any symptoms. Most people aren’t aware of these phenomena going on in their bodies till one day they trip over.
Bone loss can be prevented up to a reasonable extent in men and women older than age 20 with exercise. Exercising also helps in maintaining muscular strength, coordination, and balance – which prevent falls and related fractures.
Exercise and Bone Density
Weight-bearing activities increase bone density and improve bone health. Specifically, the most effective are those activities we perform by making our bones and muscles work against gravity. While performing these exercises, your muscles and tendons undergo stress which is passed onto your bones causing them to produce bone tissues to endure the stress. This makes your bones stronger and denser while reducing the risk of osteoporosis, osteopenia and fracture diseases.
A weight-bearing workout makes your bones stronger by stimulating them. These types of exercises reduce the potential loss of bone density caused by aging or certain health conditions. Make sure you consult your physician before you start doing them if you already suffer from certain conditions. You don’t necessarily have to hit the gym for weight-bearing workouts nor do you have in top shape.
These exercises are type of activities that compress your bones using the aid of gravitational force. Walking and jogging are the simplest examples of these exercises. It’s better to start with low-impact forms of these workouts and gradually increase the intensity because performing too much can induce injury. The following aspects of the exercise affect your bones.
- Strain magnitude: This refers to the impact or force induced by the exercise on your bones. Workouts like gymnastics and weightlifting induce a higher strain magnitude.
- Strain rate: It refers to the impact of physical activity. Workouts like jumping and plyometrics induce a higher strain rate.
- Strain frequency: this term refers to the frequency of workout impact. Activities like running induce a higher strain frequency.
Before your change into your workout clothes and start performing exercises to improve your bone health, here are some tips that you must follow.
- If you suffer from certain health conditions – like cardiovascular trouble, diabetes, blood pressure, or obesity or you’re over 40 consult your doctor before following any exercise program.
- Make sure you perform these exercises for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
- Do not neglect what your body says, always keep your mind open towards its telling you. You might experience muscle soreness and discomfort as you start your workout regime, but the pain shouldn’t last more than 2 days. If that’s not the case, you might be working too hard.
- Stop working out if you experience any discomfort in your chest; see the doctor before your next session.
- If you already have osteoporosis or likewise consult your doctor regarding activities that are safe to do.
- People with fragile bones should avoid exercise that involves too much flexing and bending of the spine. And avoid high-impact workouts as they put you to risk of one fracture.
- Consult a specialist to know about the progress of the activities, safe stretches, and correct posture. Exercise specialists have their major as physical education, exercise physiology, or physical therapy and they will guide you through safety protocols.
Exercises for Stronger Bones
- Tai Chi
Tai chi involves a set of slow graceful movements that facilitate developmental and physical coordination while strengthening the bones. Each posture of this activity flows gently to the next without taking a break leaving your body in a constant state of motion. It’s also referred to as a form of meditation.
Tai chi is one of Amazon’s weight-bearing activities that reduce the risk of falls. A study revealed that people who performed tai chi regularly enjoyed better bone health and have a slower rate of bone loss.
- Hamstring curls
This exercise strengthens your skeletal structure and bones at the backs of the upper legs. After getting in your workout clothes, stand straight with both feet opened shoulder-distance apart. Then move your left foot back slightly so that only your toes are touching the ground.
Then try to contract the muscular group at the back of the left leg to lift the left heel closer to your buttocks. Keep control over the left foot while lowering it down to go back to the position you started. Repeat the activity 8-12 times. Take a little rest and repeat it with your other leg.
Yoga is found to increase bone mineral density, especially in women, up to incredible levels.
From its slow, flowy, gentle style, yoga builds up your bone health in the weight-bearing bones such as hips, spine and wrists. These bones are the most vulnerable to fracture.
Standing yoga poses such as Warrior I and II work amazingly well for the larger bones of the hips and legs, whereas poses like Downward Dog work well on your arms, wrists and shoulders. Yoga is healing medicine for your mind as well. It sharpens balance, concentration, coordination, and body awareness — all of them work well for preventing accidents and falls.
Squats strengthen your core and lower body. It specifically targets your hamstrings, glutes, and buttocks. If you have mobility trouble, do not squat deeply, go down as much as you comfortably can. This exercise will still be effective. Start this exercise by staging your feet hip-width apart. Next, bend at the knees and start squatting down slowly. Keep the back straight and lean forward and make sure you feel the legs working. Then go down until the thighs become parallel to the floor. Lastly, tighten the buttocks and return to the standing position. Repeat the desired reps.
- Brisk Walking
A meditative fitness activity that works wonders. Brisk walking is the easiest form of exercise that you do yet it offers uncountable benefits. Brisk walking is popular among older adults; it’s known to be a great way of revamping bone health.
Walking daily for 30 mins significantly reduces the risks of fractures. You can adapt to speeds or distance depending upon your fitness level. The best thing is this activity is it can be done anywhere.
- Strength training
Strength training incorporates free weights workouts, resistance activities, or using your body weight for strengthening the major muscles of your body, especially the spinal muscles. Resistance exercises help a lot in maintaining your bone density.
If you go to the gym and use weight machines, adjust the machine so that they won’t make your spine twist too much. A physical therapist or an exercise trainer can help you best in performing these activities safely.
- Flexibility exercises
Moving the joints to their maximum helps in keeping your muscles and bones working well. Most of these exercises are performed as warm-up activities. Exercise is better done and more benefits are to be had if you warm up properly.
You can also do flexibility stretches at the end of your workout session as a cool down. It works wonders for your joint’s health. Make sure you do these moves gently and slowly and avoid the moves that involve too much twisting or bending.
Exercises to avoid
We have mentioned exercises that help preserve your bone mass, but it’s also important to discuss which you should not perform. Activities such as jumping rope, hiking, climbing, and running can strengthen the bones when done in moderation. However, excess exertion on these exercises can put too much pressure on the bones making them vulnerable to fractures. High-impact exercises can also put too much strain on the spine and hips, increasing the risk of accidents and falling over. This may apply to everything in life, but always remember not to overdo any form of exercise.