We often think about our muscles when we exercise. But bone is also living tissue and will also respond to exercise by becoming stronger. Those who exercise regularly have better bone density and strength than those who don't.
As we get older, we begin to lose our bone mass. In most cases, our bone mass peaks in our 30s. But exercising regularly can help slow bone loss and improve muscle strength, coordination, and balance. This benefits older adults by helping to reduce the risk of falling, injury, and even osteoporosis123.
What Exercises Help Build Bone?
The best exercises for your bones are weight-bearing and resistance exercises. When you do weight-bearing exercise, your body is forced to work against gravity. Some of these types of exercises include walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, playing tennis, and climbing stairs. Resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, can also benefit the bones by strengthening them.
Tips for Healthy Exercise
If you are over the age of 40 or are experiencing any health conditions, such as hypertension, heart problems, obesity or diabetes, your doctor should be consulted before you start exercising regularly.
The Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. Don't push it when you first start exercising. Listen to what your body is telling you. You might have some discomfort or muscle soreness when you first start, but it shouldn't last more than 48 hours. If the discomfort lingers too long, try reducing your workload. If you have any discomfort or pain in your chest, stop exercising and consult your doctor.
For those who are already diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor will tell you which activities are safe to begin. Experts recommend that those with low bone mass protect their spine by avoiding flexing, bending, or twisting exercises. In addition, high impact exercises should be avoided to reduce your risk of fracture.
An exercise specialist can be consulted to help with the progression of activity and instruct you on how to stretch and strengthen your muscles in a safe manner. You may also need to correct poor posture habits that have been a problem for the majority of your life. Exercise specialists should have a degree in exercise science, physical therapy, physical education, or some type of similar specialty. Ask if they have experience working with individuals who have osteoporosis.
Part of a Complete Osteoporosis Program
Exercise is an important part of osteoporosis prevention or treatment, along with a healthy diet rich in vitamin D and calcium. Always discuss bone health with your doctor and see if you are a candidate for a bone mineral density test. When a low bone mass diagnosis is given, your doctor may recommend medications that can help to keep your bones strong.
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