As we age, our bodies are fraught with many changes. Some more pleasant than others. One such difference appears in your bone health. Even after publicizing the problems associated with bone loss, many people reach mid-life unaware that this is an impending problem.

Your bone density reaches its peak between age 25 – 30, and it experiences a gradual descent until your early 50’s. From your mid- 50’s through age 70, the decline in bone density reaches its most rapid drop.

The rate of deterioration from age 70 – 90 is slower than in the previous years but continues steadily. By the time you are 90 years old, your bone volume approximately one-third of the level it was in your 20’s. This is a chronicle normal bone loss and does not account for osteoporosis, which increases the incidence of bone loss.

Such dramatic numbers give us a reason to look closer at how to help ourselves and halt bone loss. For decades, medical professionals told patients to increase calcium and magnesium to help improve bone health.

While these are still useful suggestions, research shows that exercise, including weight-bearing exercise, can make a meaningful difference in your bone volume.

Some people wonder how exercise can improve bone health and prevent bone loss. Your bones are living parts of the body, just like skin or vital organs. When you exercise, you promote new bone development.

Our bones respond to activity the same way our muscles respond, by becoming bigger and stronger. A bone under moderate stress responds by increasing its mass. This increase of mass helps to ensure your bone health both now and in your future.

 

EXERCISES TO IMPROVE BONE HEALTH

 

AEROBIC ACTIVITIES

This is not a suggestion for you to don some tights, leg warmers, and a colorful headband, but rather to look into some activities that get you moving, increase your heart rate, and are often fun as well. Participating in activities helps ensure that you will keep going and not get bored. There are many activities to get you moving that are great for people of every age group.

  • Dancing- Many communities have informal groups that meet regularly to dance. Whether you are a great dancer or believe you may have two left feet, dancing is fun and fantastic exercise. You can have a good time, meet new people, and improve your bone health.
  • Tennis or racquetball- You do not have to be an ace to enjoy yourself on the court. The most important thing is that you are moving and exerting yourself. Even a lively game of table tennis can provide a healthy workout. Racquet sports are an excellent way to strengthen areas which tend to wear down later in life, like knees and shoulders. Just err on the side of moderation when you are starting. Nothing kills enthusiasm or resolve faster than the inability to move without pain the next day.
  • Swimming- Ditch the inflatable float and take a few laps around the pool to get your heart pumping and your bone health improving. Swimming is a great activity that is kind to all ages. It reduces stress on joints and is relaxing for most people. Water aerobics is another way to exercise in the pool, so you are comfortable while helping many aspects of your health.

 

GOLF- If you think that golfing is not a real activity, you may want to try 18 holes and then rethink your beliefs. Provided you skip the golf cart and the caddy, you will find golf offers many health benefits, including enhancing your bone health.

 

WALKING- This timeless activity offers numerous benefits and is customizable for people of all age and fitness levels. It requires no unique skills or equipment, although fitness stores sell a wide variety of items designed to improve your walking experience.

While pedometers, creative work out wear, and fancy phone apps are fun, comfortable clothing will suffice for most people. This guide will give you a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of the different types of walking shoes. If you have specific health limitations, it is a smart idea to plan for any issues which may come up unexpectedly. For example, glucose tablets and a bottle of water are a good idea if you have diabetes, a walking stick helps if you have balance issues, and sunscreen is a smart thing for all outdoor walkers.

For those who need extra incentive to get out and walk, promising to walk with a friend can help, and walking a dog is also a great motivation to go for a walk. Many people report that they feel safer with a canine walking companion. If you can not own a dog, try offering to walk a friend or neighbor’s pooch.

 

TAI CHI- A non- combative martial art form, tai chi earned high praise for the many ways it helps improve physical and mental wellbeing, including enhancing bone health. There are several ways you can practice tai chi including DVDs, internet videos, and classes. The deliberate movements at a slow pace help to increase balance, coordination, and mindfulness. All of these are useful in preventing falls and accidents. Tai Chi also enhances your flexibility and builds physical strength over time. Many medical professionals suggest tai chi to patients who are looking for a safe, low impact weight-bearing activity.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING

Research suggests that resistance and strength training can be a great way to increase your bone density. It’s important to get started at a young age as well, because scientists have recently concluded that weight bearing exercises pre-puberty can protect against future bouts of osteoporosis.

However, people are often intimidated by weight training, thinking that it’s reserved for people who go to the gym 4 hours per day. In reality, it’s something that can be done in moderation for just a few minutes per day. And those few minutes will go a long way for your health, and more specifically for your bone density.

The concept of strength training does not necessarily mean that you will be pumping iron in a dimly lit gym. There are numerous exercises that can build and strengthen your bones, yet they do not require the physique of a bodybuilder. Some of these are easy to do in your home; some of the activities should take place in a fitness center.

At home activities:

  • Climbing stairs
  • Lifting small hand-held weights
  • Using elastic resistance bands
  • Jumping rope

 

Fitness center activities:

  • Weight machines
  • Stair climbing machine
  • Elliptical training machines

It is true that we do not have access to a magic potion to stop our aging or to turn back the clock, trying several of these activities can help you avoid bone loss as well as fractures associated with falls. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new fitness regime to make sure you are healthy enough for the activities.

 

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18946628

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184