5 activities for building strong bones and a healthy body
Bones are one of the most important parts of your body: they provide structure, support your muscles, and protect your brain and other vital organs. So, obviously, keeping your bones strong will boost your overall health.
The worst thing you can do for your bones is nothing. Stress on your bones promotes bone growth, and a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t create any stress on the bones. Being sedentary actually accelerates bone degradation as you age.
Staying active and doing exercises that put stress on your bones will help you build stronger bones. Activities that improve your strength and muscle tone also help boost bone strength.
There are a lot of ways to be physically active, but some are better for building bones and promoting health than others. Here are the top activities that I recommend to my clients.
1. Strength training
Strength training is one of the best activities you can do to build bone density and prevent osteoporosis. When muscles contract, they pull on the bones. That stress stimulates the creation of calcium deposits, and that starts the process of bone formation.
4When strength training, you will need to do exercises that work your entire body so that bones all over your body are being stressed. To build the most bone density, you should use heavier weights and do fewer repetitions. Here’s an example of a good full-body exercise routine to follow:
Squat Variation: 5x5 (5 sets of 5 reps)
Chin-Ups Variation: 3x to failure (as many as you can do)
Push-Ups Variation: 3x5-10 (3 sets of 5-10 reps)
Plank: 3x30-60 seconds (3 sets of 30-60 seconds)
If you don’t have lower body joint issues, jogging is an excellent choice for building bone density. It stimulates bone growth and increases bone density through the impact of your bodyweight on the running surface.
Research shows that jogging and strength training are just about equally effective in building bone density in the lower body and the spine. But jogging builds bone density in the lower body and the spine only, whereas strength training builds both upper- and lower-body bones.
Plyometrics, also known as “jump training,” are exercises in that make muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power. The exercises almost always involve jumping but can also be done to strengthen the upper body with explosive push-ups.
The stress put on the bone from the muscle contraction and from landing on the ground after a jump causes bone growth. There is some research that suggests that this form of training will elicit the most bone growth—more than jogging or even strength training.
Good plyometric exercises for the upper and lower body include:
Rucking is walking or hiking with a weighted backpack or vest. This form of cardio is my personal favorite because you can do it anywhere and at any time, and it is joint-friendly. This is a good option if you have joint issues and cannot jog.
The extra weight on your body promotes more bone growth than simply walking. I recommend you start with a 20-30 minute ruck two or three times per week carrying 20-25% of your bodyweight in your rucking backpack vest.
This video offers tips on how to get started with rucking.
5. Brisk walking
Research has shown that prolonged, brisk walking is an effective way to improve bone density. It’s not as effective as the other options I’ve listed, but it will still have a positive effect on your bones.
The majority of people can walk at a pace that builds some bone density and endurance at the same time. The recommendation for walking is at least a 30-minute walk at least three times per week. You’ll see better results if you walk more often.
Don't let a couch potato lifestyle cause issues for your bones. Whether you want to jog in the park, hit the gym or try out some bone-strengthening exercises at home, there are plenty of options to give your bones the attention they deserve and build a stronger, healthier future.
Questions about your bone health? Talk to your primary care physician or find a joint specialist near you.
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