As I strolled the teeming streets of this vibrant city, I noticed more and more people with slumped shoulders, humped backs and curved spines. Many people are only able to run their daily errands with the assistance of walkers.
Much closer to home, I’ve also watched some of my own family members suffer from the debilitating effects of osteoporosis.
All of this has made me realize how important it is for me to begin to focus more on exercises that will help to strengthen my bones.
If you want to strengthen your bones for life, start exercising — in addition to enhancing your diet with more bone-building foods and nutrients.
Bones are hard on the outside and contain a yellow substance inside called marrow. Red blood cells are created in the marrow of the bone. But, the hard bone itself is made up of a matrix of cells that are continually breaking down and building back up for a stronger framework to your body.
Even at an older age, you don’t have to be resigned to the fact that you are going to lose bone density and muscle mass. Preserve the bone you have and prevent loss of bone by starting an fitness program that includes exercises to build strength. As with any program, start slow and work your way up for success.
Certain activities work on the bone and make it denser. When you use your bones, cells called osteoblasts build more bone. Other cells called osteoclasts break down damaged bone to make way for the new stronger bone. This can benefit you now and in the future.
Exercise to Build Strong Bones
Here are a few moves in the right direction:
1. Use Strength Training
Many people think that weights are just for body builders. Everyone, no matter what their age, needs to add strength training to their exercise routine at least once or twice a week. While the muscle fibers are being broken down and built up stronger, the bone is also benefiting from lifting weight against gravity. You can use your own weight or add weights using a barbell or dumbbells. You can also work out on weight resistance machines.
2. Work Out at a Higher Intensity
The benefit of exercise comes when you increase your intensity over time. It increases your cardiovascular health but also the density of your bones. If you are starting out slowly with a mild workout, that’s fine. Your body will work to adjust and that will build bone as well. Stepping up your routine every week or two will put more work on the bones to perform, and that strengthens them.
3. Challenge Your Body
When you perform the same exercise each day, over time you will stop seeing results and that includes bone strength. When you begin a new type of exercise, the body is challenged to learn a new routine and use new muscle groups. That also works the bones attached to the muscles.
4. Use Your Body Weight
Exercises that involve your body weight include pull-ups, step aerobics, jumping rope, running and tennis. That constant pounding is mixing movement with the downward pull of gravity to build stronger bone in response to the new demands.
Are you looking to build stronger bones? Exercising is one of the best ways to do that. Choose the right physical activity that will maximize bone growth. To increase your effectiveness, consider working with a personal trainer or taking strength-building classes at your health club. And make sure to include lots of healthy, bone-building foods in your diet.
What are you doing to strengthen your bones? Share your comments and suggestions below.