Osteoporosis is a problem for both women and men. As we age, we lose bone density due to a lack of hormones, including testosterone for men and estrogen for women. The result is that can make bones weak and vulnerable to fractures. This is made more difficult by the fact that on the outside we might look darn good, but on the inside, our bones might be telling a wholly different story. The good news? It is possible to prevent osteoporosis through bone-strengthening exercises.
One way to prevent osteoporosis and that telltale “old person hunch” is by making sure you eat a diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. Another way to increase your odds in the fight against osteoporosis is to be active as you age and include bone-strengthening exercises into your weekly routine. Don’t groan, many of these can actually be a ton of fun. Here are some of our favorites:
Dancing is a weight-bearing workout, which means it helps improve bone density. This type of exercise not only helps prevent osteoporosis, but it’s also fun! You don’t have to be a professional dancer to reap the benefits of dancing. You can just turn up your favorite playlist and make up your own dance in your living room.
Whether you decide to jog at a moderate pace or do full-on sprints, running is good for the body, especially for your bones. Like dancing, it’s a weight-bearing exercise that can improve bone strength, especially in the hips, legs, and lower spine. Just make sure you buy the right shoes and listen to your body. Don’t overdo it.
Don’t worry if running is not your gig, walking is just as good, and delivers pretty much the same benefits, but it’s easier on the knees. Walking two or three times a week can increase bone strength and if you make it a priority, can be easy to fit into your regular routine. If you have a dog, so much the better—you both can get out and enjoy a nice walk.
Another weight-bearing exercise that’s awesome when it comes to helping avoid osteoporosis is hiking. Even if you start out hiking simple trails designed for beginners, you’ll feel the benefit of this exercise in no time. And while not all of us live in areas where hiking is the “in” thing, chances are good that even in your neck of the woods there are nearby hiking trails and parks designed for hiking that you can take advantage of.
Aerobics is a weight-bearing workout that’s great for increasing bone density. As with any exercise regimen, you should go at your own pace and listen to your body—it’ll tell you what’s good for you and what’s not so good. If you’re new to exercising or your doctor has told you to avoid high-impact workouts, try low-impact aerobics. You can take a class at your local gym or community center, or buy a video to follow along with at home. You can even find tons of workout videos on YouTube or use a fitness app to help accompany you on your fitness journey. There are countless options and you can have fun and increase bone density at the same time.
If you have stairs in your home, you’ve got some great building blocks for working out to prevent osteoporosis. Simply build in walking up a certain number of flights of stairs a certain number of times a day and your bones will get some benefit. If you need a bigger challenge, find a local high school or college and walk up and down the stairs of their stadium. Stairs are good for the bones and good for the heart. It’ll seem hard at first, but you’ll get accustomed to the challenge and your body will like your for it.
Jumping rope is another workout you can do at home. Just grab a jump rope and go for it. Like stair climbing, jumping rope isn’t as easy to do at midlife as it was when you were on the playground in middle school. It immediately gets your heart pumping and can wear you out in no time. Be patient. Jump for two minute intervals, then talk a quick walk around the house. Then jump for another two minutes. Repeat this and in no time you’ll be a jump roping expert. Great for your heart and for your bone strength.
Weight-bearing workouts are an incredibly important part of an anti-aging, bone-strengthening lifestyle. Start with weights you feel comfortable with and then work your way up. Your goal should not be light weight and lots of reps, instead, you should use weights that challenge you and do three sets of 8 to 12 reps and get to the point where during the last set, you literally can’t do another rep. That’s when resistance training, which is what strength training is, is going to benefit you and your bones the most. You can do strength training at your local gym or community center, or in the privacy of your own home. There are tons of apps you can use to help guide you along the way, or you can work with a personal trainer or go to a group workout session.
Another resistance exercise that’s incredibly beneficial and easy on the body in the process involves elastic bands. You can buy a set of bands for about $10 on Amazon and once you start doing a few common exercises with it, you’ll get the hang of it in no time, and work to build muscle and bone. This will help you look and feel better while decreasing your odds of getting osteoporosis and getting more bone-strengthening benefits.
Yoga is amazingly popular, with devotees of all ages, and it’s popular for a reason—it’s amazing. Yoga helps build flexibility, strength, coordination, balance, and also reduces stress and helps provide inner strength and calmness. If you’ve not yet tried Yoga, do—you’ll be a believer in no time.
There you have it. A variety of bone-strengthening, muscle building exercises and literally something for everyone. If you make time to do a few of these kinds of exercises daily, or at least several times a week, you’llbuild up your bone density, and also create increased lean muscle mass and, in the process, reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis. You can further reduce your risk by making sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. And if you’re having trouble eating the right foods, you can turn to vitamin D and calcium supplements instead!