Three exercises for building strong bones

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Three exercises for building strong bones

Even though we can’t see out bones, like any other body tissue, bones undergo constant change to accommodate growth and repair.  From the time we are born until the day we die, bone is continually being broken down and built up, a process known as remoldeling – old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is added (formation).

One way to keep our bones strong and free from osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and progressive bone loss, is to have a regular workout routine.  Building bone density is important to strengthening bones which also may delay or prevent the onset of this brittle bone disease in later life.

To get started on maintaining and preserving your bones as long as possible, here are the best exercises for building bone density:

·      Lift weights

What’s good for our muscles is good for our bones.  This should be a mantra we all need to remember when working out.  When our muscle mass is increased, it makes every physical activity easier to do.  It also helps us avoid unwanted fat gain, improves athletic ability, improves self-confidence, and builds strong bones. 

It is never too late to increase bone density by adding strength training exercises. Even people in the 60’s and beyond can significantly increase the density of their bones when performing regular weight lifting.  Resistance training improves bone density by putting stress on bones, with greater force resulting in greater a result, which is why heavy weights with fewer repetitions are typically recommended for bone (and muscle) benefits.  However, such protocols are not always practical or feasible for everyone, especially many older people.

It should be noted that everyone begins losing bone mass in the third decade of life, after peak mass is achieved, with a rate that accelerates in women during menopause.

Exercises such as squats and lunges have also been shown to help build bone density quickly.  If you are new to lifting weights, start off slowly using lighter weights so you don’t injure yourself or develop poor form or technique.  Get guidance from a coach or trainer to avoid unsafe lifting technique and to reduce your risk of injury. 

·      Jump rope

Maybe jumping rope feels old-school, something you did as a kid but have left behind since becoming an adult. But think again. Jumping rope offers a combination of benefits to bone, balance and muscles that most exercises can’t match.

Anytime you do a movement that involves hops, jumps or leaps can increase bone density.  These movements are considered high-intensity impact exercise which creates a significant force on the muscle, joints, and bones.  All of that impact leads to making your bones stronger and denser.  Even just hopping can increase the bone density in hips which can help reduce a hip fracture later on in life.  A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that young women who jumped as high as they could just 10 times, three times a week for six months, increased bone mineral density in their legs and the lower half of their spines. 

When comparing jumping rope to jogging, when a person jumps rope the impact goes through the ball of the foot instead of the heel, which is what causes so many problems in runners.

·      Moderate-impact exercise

Some excellent exercises to give your bones a workout include running, hiking, brisk walking and stair climbing.  These moderate impact moves put just enough stress on your bones and muscles to improve the density of bones particularly in the lower body, hips and lower spine. 

Putting it all together

Our bones are an important part of us not to ignore.  Just because we are unable to see our bones is no excuse for ignoring them. By incorporating these exercises in a regular workout routine, you are sure to make your bones as strong and dense as they should and can be.  Remember, a little goes a long way.