The bone-building benefits of exercise…coming to a skeleton near you!
It’s easy to appreciate strong, toned muscles. You can not only see the difference exercise makes, but feel a difference as well. While you’re admiring your quads, biceps, and abs, you should realize that something else is going on inside your body.
While not as noticeable as strong muscles, your bones are also strengthened when you work out.
Keep reading to learn how exercise affects the health of your bones and what exercises you can do to give your bone a heaping helping of strength.
Bone Growth and Loss
New bone is continually being added to your bone structure, while old bone is constantly being removed throughout life. When you’re young, new bone is added faster than it’s removed. But starting around age 30, new bone growth slows and bone loss increases. If bone is lost faster than it can be replaced, osteoporosis develops.
Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak, thin, and brittle. Since weak bones break more easily, keeping this condition under wraps is essential for optimal overall health. The most common bones that break with osteoporosis include the wrist, spine, or hip. Anyone at any age can develop osteoporosis, but older women are most susceptible.
Thankfully, there’s good news. In most cases, osteoporosis is both preventable and treatable. Great steps to keep your bones strong and healthy include eating a diet high in calcium and vitamin D, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and getting regular exercise. Certain medical conditions and menopause often lead to bone loss, so speak with your doctor if you are concerned.
Effect of Exercise on Bones
Just like muscle, bones are living tissue. Do the right type of exercise and you’ll help your body grow new bone tissue. As your bones grow, they get stronger. So as you exercise, you strengthen both your bones and your muscles.
Exercise leads to muscle and bone strength, as well as improved coordination, balance, and stamina, which benefit folks of all ages. These benefits are especially important for older adults, who are at greater risk for osteoporosis and suffering accidents that lead to broken bones.
But don’t think only elderly individuals should perform bone-growing exercises. Exercises that improve bone growth and strength are equally important for kids and teenagers, as bones grow the fastest right before and during puberty, with bone mass at its peak during the teen years. Rather than sitting in front of a screen, kids and teenagers ages 6 to 17 years need at least an hour of exercise each day. At least three days of the week should include bone-strengthening exercises. Younger kids should participate in active play several times throughout the day to help strengthen and grow their bones.
While there are perks to all sorts of exercises, not all physical activity builds bones. To do that, you’ll need to go with weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Weight-bearing exercises work against gravity and force you to carry your own weight while standing up. Examples include walking, running, aerobics, basketball, dancing, racquetball, jumping rope, and climbing stairs.
Muscle-strengthening activities, also called resistance exercises, use your body or some other type of resistance (weights) against gravity. Examples include push-ups, calf raises, pull-ups, weight lifting, elastic bands exercises, and use of weight machines.
This means that bicycling and swimming won’t directly strengthen your bones. However, they are great exercises for cardiovascular health and are great options if your bones are fragile or your joints are hurting.
Beefing Up Your Bone Protection
If your bones are brittle or you’re prone to falls, non-impact exercises are best for you. Such activities will help to improve your mobility, balance, and posture, while increasing muscle strength and decreasing your risk of falling and breaking a bone. Examples of non-impact exercises include swimming, water aerobics, rowing, cross-country skiing, Tai Chi, and the elliptical machine.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to void movements that could increase your risk of falling if your bones aren’t strong and healthy. Activities as simple as reaching down, bending, and twisting, as well as heavy lifting and high-impact activities all put weak bones at risk.
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