You know working out strengthens your muscles, but did you also know that certain exercises can strengthen your bones? The key: The activity has to have a high impact. Subjecting your bones to stress through high-impact workouts prompts bones to add mass or reduce the loss of mass that naturally happens as you age.
Research suggests the impact from running a 10-minute mile or jumping up and down from a box at least 15 inches high is the best way to generate enough force to build stronger bones. Plus, physical activity can reduce your risk of a hip fracture, which is commonly caused by osteoporosis, by 50 percent.
Strength training with free weights and resistance bands is also magic for improving your bone health. Add this trio of moves to your workout to help build bone mass in the spine, hips and forearms (the three areas most prone to fractures).
- Romanian Dead Lift – Using a dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet hip-width apart with knees slightly bent. Bend forward from the waist toward your toes, keeping your back straight. Squeezing your glutes, return to standing. Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Triceps Extension – Stand with feet hip-width apart with arms extended overhead and one dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbows by your ears and slowly bend arms toward your shoulder blades. Straighten arms and raise the weights back to start. Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Biceps Curl – Stand with feet hip-width apart with arms on either side of your body. With a dumbbell in each hand, keep palms facing away from your body as you bend your elbows and raise dumbbells to your shoulders. Slowly bring the weights back to your sides. Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
All that said, if you already have osteoporosis, improving overall stamina and balance is better for your bones. Exercises such as dancing, low-impact aerobics and walking will help protect you from fracture-inducing falls as well as build muscle strength. And, as always, consult your doctor when starting a new exercise regimen.
Photo credit: Andreas Schaefer