There’s no doubt that strong bones are important for health. When we were young, we were told to drink our milk and take our vitamins so that we could grow up to have strong bones. This is because calcium and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones. But we often forget another important activity that builds strong bones: weight-bearing exercise!
When you exercise in a way that puts strain on your bones, it makes them stronger. Strong, healthy bones can prevent osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to weaken and makes the risk of breaking bones much higher. Women are at particular risk of developing osteoporosis or breaking bones. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that “a woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.”
While bones typically grow into your 20s, after the age of 30, your bones will begin to weaken. That’s why it’s never too late to workout for your bones. Take a moment and think back over the last month. Did you lift weights? Maybe not. That’s ok! Because weight-bearing exercise and weight-lifting are not the same thing. Lifting weights is a type of weight-bearing exercise, but it is far from the only option.
Think back over the last month again. Did you run, lift groceries, pick up your child, do push-ups? Maybe! Any exercise where you use your body to support weight improves bone health. This means that walking, hiking, lifting anything, and dancing all help you to have strong bones! It also means that activities like swimming and biking, while good for your heart, are not going to do much for your bones.
So, when you are thinking about getting or staying active, remember to add some weight-bearing exercise to that plan. Keep in mind that you should always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan. If you want to try lifting weights, you should also consult a certified trainer who can teach you proper technique and keep your workouts challenging, but fun. Your bones will thank you!
- Jump rope: Repeated jumping is a great example of a bone strengthening exercise.
- Challenge family or friends to a game of basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, or any sport that you can pick up and play for even just 15 minutes.
- Sign up for a race to benefit charity: A mile, 5K, 10K, or any other race are great ways to make your bones stronger and help a good cause.
- Use what you have: There’s no need for fancy equipment. Canned food, filled water bottles, heavy books, or your own bodyweight can be used as weights to make bones stronger!