When we think of the physical health benefits of exercising, we usually think about toning muscles and losing excess weight. However, many forms of exercise have an additional health benefit, which is strengthening bones.
Bones are made of living tissues and therefore respond to exercise in the same way as muscles. Our bone mass naturally begins to decrease as we age, in a process that begins somewhere in the third decade of life. Maintaining a good exercise program can help retain maximum bone density, keeping us stronger and healthier and staving off conditions associated with bone aging such as osteoporosis.
Getting enough calcium is also vital for bone health, but it is not always possible to get the recommended 600mg of calcium per day just from our diets. Medical doctor and naturopath Dr. Carolyn Dean has created the ReCalcia supplement, which unlike most widely available calcium supplements is 100% absorbed at a cellular level. More information about ReCalcia can be viewed in the embedded short video.
Top Exercises for Bone Building
The best exercises for building bone density and maintaining good bone health are resistance and weight-bearing exercises. Resistance exercises include lifting weights, exercising with resistance bands or using cross-training machines in the gym. Weight-bearing exercises are those that work against gravity, such as climbing stairs, dancing, running, walking and playing tennis.
Exercises such as cycling or swimming, where the body is supported, are still good for overall health but will not work as well for bone building. However, building stronger muscles does help to build stronger bones. In the infographic attachment, you can find out the optimum amount of exercise for different age groups to help build healthy bone density.
Health Tips for Starting an Exercise Program
Older people, particularly those that have not exercised regularly throughout their lives, may need to check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program. People with certain health issues may also find it advisable to check with a doctor. Conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart trouble may need a specialized exercise program.
The optimal goal for exercise in adults, according to the Surgeon General (US), is half an hour of physical activity daily. It is natural to feel some discomfort such as achy or sore muscles when beginning a new exercise program, but this is only cause for concern if it lasts for more than 48 hours or is painful rather than simply uncomfortable.
Exercising with Osteoporosis
Having osteoporosis does not mean people should not exercise. On the contrary, a regular exercise program can help alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of future fractures. Anyone deemed at risk of fracture may be recommended by their doctor to avoid certain high impact exercises. The PDF attachment explores the difference between low, moderate and high impact exercises.
Even people at risk of fracture can benefit from regular low impact exercise. Activities such as tai chi, climbing stairs or low impact aerobics can all result in a marked improvement in bone density.
Exercises for Small Children
The time while the skeleton is growing is the best time to begin a program of exercise to build strong, healthy bones. Even very young children can benefit from exercise. Activities such as crawling and tummy time can help promote strong bone growth even in children who are not yet walking.
Running, jumping and climbing games are good for young children who can walk unaided. Older children can benefit from sports such as tennis or football, martial arts, trampolining, skipping or dancing.