You spend most of your younger years building strong bones. By age 30, most people have already reached peak bone mass – that means your bones are as strong as they’re ever going to be. As you continue to age, you’ll start losing bone mass – some more quickly than others.
But don’t lose hope. There are plenty of tips and tricks to help maintain healthy bones. When it comes to exercise, here are a few of the best options for your bones.
Why is exercise important for bone health?
It’s not all about calcium and vitamin D. Sure, your diet plays a huge role in maintaining bone strength, but don’t underestimate the power of exercise.
When you hit the gym, you’re not just building muscle. You’re also strengthening and protecting your bones. Exercising also helps maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which can help you avoid falls as you age.
What type of exercise should you choose?
Try to include a combination of weight-bearing and resistance exercises. These are the best options to help support bone health. Keep your routine fresh by incorporating a variety of different weight-bearing and resistance exercises.
Remember to check in with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program.
Despite the name, weight-bearing exercises don’t actually involve lifting weights. They’re exercises you do on your feet, forcing your bones to work against gravity to support your weight. Here are a few weight-bearing activities to work into your exercise routine.
Walking often gets overlooked as a bone-strengthening exercise, but it’s one of the easiest ways to keep your bones healthy. You don’t need any equipment and you can start any time – even today. Take a morning stroll with your coffee, an after-dinner walk with your family (this also helps support digestion), or a brisk walk between work meetings to get your creative juices flowing.
If you’re yearning for a little more adventure, consider blazing a few trails in your area. Just make sure you watch your step for obstacles like uneven ground, rocks, and roots.
You probably encounter stairs every day – in your home, at work, down to the subway, or in the mall. Next time you have the choice between taking the elevator or the stairs, think about your bone health. It’s a simple way to show your bones some appreciation for carrying you through life.
Jumping rope isn’t just for kids – it’s also a wonderful way to support your bone health and can help you practice coordination and balance. It’ll also help you fit in a little bit of cardio – heart health is important, too.
Just keep in mind that jumping is a high-impact activity, so it may not be the best option for everyone, especially those with existing bone health concerns. Talk with your healthcare provider before you dig up your old jump rope.
Go ahead, dance like nobody’s watching. You can do your “happy dance” knowing that you’re strengthening your bones as you move your body to the beat.
Resistance exercises make your body work against an external force, like free weights or your own body weight. Most people use resistance exercises to build muscle mass, but they’re also a great way to build and maintain strong bones. The CDC recommends participating in resistance exercises at least two days per week.
If you’re new to lifting weights, make sure you start slow. Choose a comfortable weight and work on your form before you try lifting heavier weights. Check out these simple weightlifting exercises to get you started.
Need a little guidance? Your local gym may be able to give you some tips and work with you to create a workout plan tailored to your abilities and goals.
Like weights, resistance bands make your body work harder and offer several different levels of resistance. They’re great for small spaces or at-home workouts, and you can work your entire body with just one piece of equipment. Consider incorporating some of these exercises into your workout routine.
Bodyweight exercises are great because you don’t need any equipment – just yourself. A few push-ups, bodyweight squats, or lunges per day can start you on your journey to strong bones. Looking for more variety? Keep these bodyweight exercises on hand for your next at-home workout.
It’s never too early or too late to invest in your bone health. In addition to a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, include a variety of weight-bearing and resistance exercises to support healthy bones as you age.