It’s no secret that exercise is of significant benefit to our overall health. As a species, we are becoming increasingly sedentary and spend more and more time relying on technology to perform tasks that would once have got us up and moving. This has a detrimental effect on our health as exercise is required for the following:
- Improved brain function
- Sharper memory
- Quicker learning
- Improved mood
- Decrease in depression
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s
- Reversal of age-related organ decay
- Slower aging generally
But, did you know that exercise is also important for the health of your bones? Bones naturally lose density as we age, a condition known as Osteoporosis. 1 in 3 women and less men will eventually be diagnosed with Osteoporosis, so it is a condition that we should take seriously and take steps to avoid. Another excellent reason to exercise is for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes for people requiring knee and hip replacement surgery, but a Chicago orthopedic surgeon such as Ravi Bashyal MD will always discuss the benefits of physical therapy to his patients before proceeding with surgery.
Bones, like muscles are made up of living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Unfortunately, we will all lose bone density after we reach our third decade so it’s important to counteract this loss with lots of bone building exercise. Even astronauts in space will lose density due to a lack of gravity and are given stringent exercise routines upon their return to earth to build bone density back up.
Weight puts more stress on bones signaling to your body that it needs to build stronger bones to support that weight. In as little as two days per week and no matter your age, you can improve your bone health using the following examples of weight-bearing exercise:
- Brisk walking and hiking
- Jogging and running
- Jumping rope
- Team sports like basketball and soccer
- Stair climbing
Consult with your doctor before embarking on any of these exercises.
Strength Training Exercises
Resistance is added to exercises to make your muscles and bones work harder and therefore become stronger. Activities that put stress on your bones can nudge bone forming cells into action as a result of the tugging and pushing on bones. Strength training can also be used to target the bones of the hips, spine and wrists which are the sites most likely to fracture. Examples of strength training exercises include:
- Lifting weights
- Using resistance bands
- Using your body weight for resistance, by doing push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, leg squats or push-ups against a wall
- Using weight machines at a gym
Other Types of Exercise
While some of these exercises won’t actively increase your bone mass, they are helpful when you are recovering from an injury and generally to benefit your flexibility and balance. Enhanced strength and stability will reduce the likelihood of a fall and in turn reduce the amount of fractures that people with low density can experience. Tai Chi has been found to slow bone loss in postmenopausal women.