Good Habits for Bones
vitSince the 1980s, research has revealed much about how the body keeps bones healthy and how bone mass becomes weakened. One important discovery is that simple weight-bearing exercises can build bones.
This knowledge is particularly helpful to seniors. By age 60, women have lost 35 – 50% of their bone mass and men have lost 20 – 35%. People with the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis continue to lose even more bone mass, putting them at a greatly increased risk for fractures.
Physicians recommend that you take steps early in life to protect bone, especially by consuming adequate calcium and vitamin D in the bone-forming years. But it’s important to keep paying attention to your bones later in life. One way to do this is by incorporating regular exercise into your daily (or at least weekly) routine.
Exercise can help strengthen muscle and bone, improve posture, and prevent falls by aiding balance. Weight-bearing exercise is particularly good–any activity done on your feet with the bones supporting the body’s weight.
Exercises in which bones sustain repeated impact, such as feet striking the ground, have additional benefit. Good bone-building activities include:
- skipping rope
Weight training (or resistance training, strength training) is also good for bones. You can use free weights, dumbbells, or homemade weights (such as 2-pound canned goods).
It is important to combine both the weight-bearing and the weight-training exercises for maximum fitness. Walking and other weight-bearing exercises benefit the bones in the legs, hips, and lower spine, while strength training aids the upper spine and arms.
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