Bone health is important at every age. Exercise is essential in treating and preventing osteoporosis. Exercise helps to strengthen muscle, improve coordination and improve overall bone health. Bone is a living tissue that responds to exercise by getting stronger. After our third decade of life we begin to lose bone tissue. Regular exercise is crucial in preventing bone loss and maintaining bone health.
Weight bearing exercise is the best type of exercise for your bones. Some examples of weight bearing exercises are jogging, hiking, tennis, dancing and resistance training. Non-weight bearing exercises include swimming and bicycling. While these exercises are great for cardiovascular activity, you also need some weight bearing exercise for optimal bone health. It’s important to keep in mind that jogging, walking and hiking all protect the bones of the lower body, but what about your upper body? It is good to find a strength training program that also includes exercises focusing on the bones of the spine, wrists and arms.
The ideal frequency for weight bearing exercises to maintain bone health is three to five times per week and resistance exercises two to three times per week according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Maintaining physical activity across the life span is essential in maintaining bone health for life. Studies have shown that once we stop being physically active, we lose any of the gains we have made through exercise.
Nutrition also plays an important part in maintaining healthy bones. Consuming a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D could slow or prevent bone loss. Calcium is found in many foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, kale, collard greens, broccoli and spinach to name a few. If you are unable to get enough calcium and vitamin D from the foods you eat talk, with your health care provider or dietitian about how to get the right amount.
Bone health is a subject that we often don’t think of until it is too late. Fortunately, there are many lifestyle choices we can make today to keep our bones strong.