Strong bones

Strong bones are very important if we want to stay active as we age. However, we rarely think about it until we get a warning from the doctor that our bones are losing density. Then we panic and suddenly start exercising more and drinking more milk. But is this the best approach?

The good news about bone strength is that you can build it up at any age, so it’s never too late to get started. It’s also never too early to get started. Although growth stops sometime in the teenage years, you can still increase peak bone mass in your 20’s with proper diet and exercise. And the higher that mass is, the better off you’ll be later in life. You can also slow down the loss of bone density throughout life and even build strength at any point. Keeping your bones healthy throughout your life will make it that much easier to have healthy bones as you age.

For fitness approaches to building bone strength you’ll want to do:

* resistance training with weights, bands, and/or your own body weight
* exercises for good posture (back, core, and shoulders)
* balance exercises
* impact exercises like running or jumping

Unfortunately swimming and bike riding aren’t impact exercises and don’t increase bone density. However, it’s still a good idea to include those types of aerobic exercises for cardio strength, perhaps alternating with impact activities and including stretching and strengthening in between. I try to do a run/walk every day that I can. I add upper body dumbbells one day, then lower body the next, then abs the next (in the perfect world). Yes, there are days I take off and rest, but my goal is to get moving every single day.

As women age, many lose some bone density especially in the spine, hips, and perhaps even the forearms. There are many reasons behind bone loss that include diet, inadequate levels of vitamin D and calcium (and other vitamins and minerals), hormonal changes, medications, and even thyroid function. If you are losing bone density talk to your doctor to find out why, so you can be proactive and make the lifestyle changes that can help you avoid osteoporosis drugs.

In the meantime, add exercise to your daily routine NOW. Search online for foods to avoid and foods to add for bone support. Some basic recommendations you’ll find include avoiding caffeine and alcohol and adding canned salmon and sardines (with bones) and other foods containing calcium. Although there’s some debate about the value of eating dairy, if it doesn’t bother you most nutritionists recommend it. However, there are other good sources of calcium that might surprise you like leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Think outside the milk carton, and check the resources at the end of this article.

I like to include weights in my classes if possible, but there are also many great postures I teach that use body weight alone and are beneficial for hips, back, and spine strength. And we always work on balance. Better to prevent falls in the first place!

If you’d like to work with me, check out my private Fitness Classes here.

Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins, November, 2021.