Bones—like muscles—respond to the stresses placed on them. So as you strengthen your muscles with exercise, you’ll strengthen your bones, too.
Weight-bearing, resistance, and balance exercises are just a few of the activities you can do to build and maintain strong, healthy bones that are less prone to osteoporosis-related fractures. The earlier you begin a regular exercise program, the better. If you build strong bones early on in life and maintain them as an adult, you'll be less likely to have bones that break.
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, jogging, and dancing, make you move against gravity when you’re in an upright position. The higher the impact of the activity, the greater the benefit will be to your bones. So although swimming is a great exercise for cardiovascular fitness, walking or jogging will usually provide better conditioning for your bones. For older people, a regular program of brisk walking may help maintain bone strength.
You should aim for 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise on most days of the week.
Resistance and Strength-training Exercises
Resistance and strength-training exercises are also ideal choices, even though they are not high-impact exercises. Weight machines, free weights, and even yoga and Pilates will help build lean muscles and strong bones.
The benefit of increased leg strength may also help prevent falls and the hip fractures that frequently accompany them.
Resistance and strengthening exercises should be done 2 to 3 days a week. Try to condition each major muscle group with at least 1 exercise.
Just as strengthening exercises help prevent falls by increasing lower body strength, balance exercises also strengthen your legs. But instead of using weight, these exercises focus on using balance to build strength. Tai Chi is a popular form of balance exercise.
Balance exercises are gentle on your bones and muscles, and they can be done every day.
To prevent fractures, do not perform exercises that require you to curl your spine forward. These exercises include sit ups and toe touches. When exercising, try not to twist your spine if you’re at high risk for fractures.
It’s important to note that bone mass will likely decrease if you stop exercising for an extended period of time. That’s why it’s essential that you continue an exercise program to truly help you maintain healthy bones. It is also important that you consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. He or she will be able to prescribe the right exercises for you based on your medical history, fitness level, and the activities you enjoy.