Exercise is great for just about everyone. Your heart, muscles, joints, and lungs are meant to work, whether you run ultramarathons or have a seated stretching routine.
Weight-bearing, flexibility, and bone-strengthening exercises keep your bones, muscles, and joints strong. Exercise can ward off osteopenia (loss of bone density) and osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones). These bone-thinning diseases put people at a greater risk for broken bones, which can seriously limit mobility and independence. We also tend to lose muscle as we age—a condition called sarcopenia. People who develop osteoporosis or sarcopenia are considered frail: more likely to fall and more likely to break a bone.
Exercise is important for building strong bones when we are younger, and it is essential for maintaining bone strength when we are older. Because bone is living tissue, it changes over time in response to the forces placed upon it. When you exercise regularly, your bone adapts by building more bone and becoming denser.
If you’re looking for ways to give your bones the workout they need, PURE has you covered with our GPS Challenge, going on right now through Nov. 6. Join our Challenge Group today for group workouts, fitness tips and inspo to keep you moving toward your health and fitness goals. Being a part of a community with a common aim can provide a huge boost of motivation beyond the one that comes with the physical benefits of a workout, which can be helpful when you might be finding it hard to stay committed.
The PURE GPS Challenge Group is there to level up the motivation factor among everyone in the group, especially when someone has a good day. The positive vibes are infectious and spread throughout the group like wildfire, creating a positive attitude and environment for the whole group.
So get your bones in the game today! Here are 5 Examples of Bone-Strengthening Activities:
Strength-training exercises are at the heart of building bone density. During strength-training activities, resistance is added to movement in order to make muscles work harder and, over time, become stronger. Although resistance exercises focus on increasing muscle mass, they also put stress on bones and have bone-building capacity.
Common types of strength training include weight machines, free weights, and exercises (such as push-ups) that use your own body weight. Elastic bands can also be used to add resistance to exercises.
A general guideline for strength training is to exercise each major muscle group at least twice a week. Be sure to rest for a full day between strength sessions.
2. Weight-bearing exercises
The best bone-strengthening activities are weight-bearing exercises. Weight-bearing describes any activity you do on your feet that works your bones and muscles against gravity. Weight-bearing exercises are those in which your feet touch the ground, such as walking and jogging. These activities gently pressure the bones to encourage them to rebuild and become denser.
When your feet and legs carry your body weight, more stress is placed on your bones, making your bones work harder. Weight-bearing exercise after young adulthood can help prevent further bone loss and strengthen bone.
Examples of weight-bearing exercise include:
- Brisk walking and hiking
- Jumping rope
- Tennis, badminton, ping pong, and pickleball
- Team sports, such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball
- Stair climbing
Higher impact activities, such as jogging and jumping rope, increase the weight on bones and provide more bone-strengthening benefits.
When you add resistance to your routine, your muscles release calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that strengthen your bones. These exercises use mechanical resistance from weight-bearing, such as resistive bands or weights.
3. Balance and core exercises
Your core encompasses your stomach muscles, back muscles, and pelvic girdle. A core workout doesn’t necessarily mean doing sit-ups—remember, everything we do engages the core.
Non-impact exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, are not as effective at strengthening bone, but provide significant flexibility and balance training benefits. Non-weight-bearing exercises, such as swimming, cycling, and chair exercises, do not increase bone density but are excellent choices to strengthen muscles as well as the heart and lungs. If you have a musculoskeletal health condition, such as arthritis, that prevents you from doing weight-bearing activities, these are good alternatives.
Stretching is important to elongate the muscle fibers. There are many variations of stretches for the upper body and lower body, including the hamstrings and calf muscles, which can get very tight from sitting. To really reap the benefits of exercise, you need to add flexibility and balance training to the mix. All exercise sessions should end with stretching. Increasing your flexibility improves your ability to move easily, can reduce your risk for injury, and provides mental relaxation benefits.
If you can get out of the house, a walk can offer a cardiovascular workout for your heart and lungs. If you have a gym setup available, you can exercise on the treadmill or an elliptical machine. If you need to stay home and have no aerobic equipment available, try gentle marching in place. Set a timer for 30 seconds or 1 minute at a time. Just always keep in mind, any and all forms of exercise give your bones a healthy dose of strength—for now and especially in the long run.
- International Osteoporosis Foundation – What is osteoporosis?: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/what-is-osteoporosis
- International Osteoporosis Foundation – Treating osteoporosis: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/treating-osteoporosis
- FamilyDoctor.org – What is osteopenia?: https://familydoctor.org/condition/osteopenia/