How to strengthen your bones. I find that when we talk about diet, fitness and overall health, we often gloss over our bones and only start talking about them once we get older or if someone is experiencing the beginnings of osteoporosis. Is there anything you can do before you might start feeling like it’s too late?
Your bones are your support system; they are, after all, your skeleton and if that’s weak then how can you expect to be strong? I think we sometimes forget that they are living tissue, complete with nerves and blood vessels. Blood cells are created in your marrow. Bones are made up mostly of collagen (a protein) and calcium phosphate. Together they make your bones strong, while remaining flexible enough to withstand stress. Unfortunately, there are some factors like family history and age that will make you more susceptible to having weaker bones or even developing osteoporosis as you age. In fact, the statistics are staggering, but while you may not be able to reverse damage 100% there is actually a lot you can do to help keep your bones strong and health.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BONES
Calcium & Vitamin D. If I had a penny for every time I saw a commercial on tv telling me that I need to take calcium supplements to help strengthen my bones. The other piece of this equation is Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium.
Healthy diet. We know that dairy contains calcium and many of these options are also fortified with Vitamin D, but you can also get calcium from broccoli and leafy green vegetables as well as beans and tofu. Another great option are sardines which contain both Vitamin D and calcium. Want more options? Think egg yolks, salmon and tuna.
Vitamins and minerals. In addition to the obvious calcium and vitamin D, you also want to make sure that you aren’t deficient in magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and other vitamins and minerals. If you suspect that your diet isn’t adequately providing your body with all the necessary ingridients then it’s probably a good idea to go do some general blood testing.
Without going overboard (especially if you already have weakened bones), weight bearing and cardio exercises are a must and you not only want to strengthen your bones, but your muscles as well. It might feel counter intuitive, but the more you stress your bones the more bone material is created. Keep in mind, however, that if you already have issues with your bones then it’s a good idea to check with your fitness professional to make sure that your form is correct and that the exercises are appropriate.
Read: Best Low Impact Workouts
Tennis (or other racquet sports)
High impact aerobics
Weight lifting with either traditional weights or resistance bands or even your own body weight (think push ups) is a must. Of course, there is a wide range of exercises that you should be doing at least 2-3 times a week, but here is a small example:
Biceps Curls. Standing with your feet hip distance apart, knees slightly bent, exhale for 2 counts as you bend your elbows bringing your weights up to your shoulders. Take a breath and slowly release for 2 counts. Aim for 12-15 reps on each arm.
Triceps Extensions. Start standing up with your right arm lifted overhead and holding a dumbbell. Slowly, as you exhale, lower the dumbbell behind your body toward your shoulder blades. Try to keep your elbow still and by the side of your head. Aim for 12 reps on each arm.
Standing Side Kicks. Start standing with your hands on your hips, feet hip distance apart. Use 3 counts to kick your right leg out to the side to roughly hip height. Hold for a count of 3, then lower and repeat. Aim for 20 reps on either side.
For more at home workouts which will help keep your bones strong read: Best At Home (Or Gym) Workout.
Bones can be a very tricky subject and I get that it’s not as sexy as talking about flat abs or a sculpted back, but as we age they really should be at the forefront of fitness goals because without strong bones, how can you expect to function and keep looking fabulous? It’s a combination of things that you need to be thinking about. A good diet is a must, but so is getting up and moving. Remember that, as with many health conditions, much of the fragility that you may experience later on in life is preventable. Give yourself the optimal chance at a long an healthy life by starting to think of these things now.
Do you ever think of things like bone health when working out?
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