Most individuals are familiar with the many benefits of exercise, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and preventing obesity. Perhaps not as well understood is the importance of regular physical activity in building and maintaining healthy bones. 

With aging, bones can become very weak and fragile – a condition called osteoporosis. The bone-thinning disease places individuals at greater risk for broken bones, which can limit mobility and independence. Exercise is important for building healthy bones when we are younger and is essential for maintaining bone health as we age. Because bone is living tissue, it changes in response to the forces placed upon it. When you exercise regularly, your bone adapts by building more cells and becoming denser. 

The two types of exercise that are most effective for building strong bones are weight-bearing exercise and strength training exercise. 

Weight-Bearing Exercise

Weight-bearing describes any activity that you do on your feet that works your bones and muscles against gravity. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include: 

  • Brisk walking
  • Hiking
  • Tennis
  • Dancing
  • Jogging/running
  • Jumping rope
  • Team sports, such as basketball and/or soccer

Strength Training Exercise

Strength training exercises add resistance to movements in order to make muscles work harder and make them, over time, stronger. The most common strength training methods include using weight machines, working with free weights, or doing exercises that utilize your own body weight such as push-ups. 

Other Forms of Exercise

Non-impact exercises, such as yoga, are not as effective at strengthening bone but provide significant flexibility and balance training benefits. Improving balance and coordination becomes especially important as we age because it helps prevent falls and the broken bones that may result. 

Other influences that may improve bone strength and health include: 

  • Including vegetables in your diet
  • Incorporating protein into every meal
  • Eating high calcium foods throughout the day
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Incorporating a collagen supplement into your routine 

Although exercise has been shown to help with healthy bones, it is just one of the recommendations to promote bone health. Understanding your individual risk for osteoporosis, such as genetic factors and family history, is essential.

If you’re experiencing pain following physical exercise, make sure to rest to allow your body some time to recover. Soreness is common after physical activity, however, if this pain manifests in a sharp or shooting pain way, it’s time to see a doctor. If you’re experiencing this kind of pain, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nelson. He’ll create a treatment plan that makes the most sense for you and your lifestyle and get you back to your active life. To schedule your appointment, give us a call at 435-774-8511.