Build Stronger Bones

Here are some exercises to boost bone health. You can also do your bones a favor by making small changes to your everyday routine. Whenever possible, walk instead of drive, choose the farthest parking spot at the mall, and take the stairs instead of the elevator…

build-stronger-bonesHow Exercise Helps Brittle Bones
Exercise is powerful medicine for people with osteoporosis. It helps reduce bone loss and builds stronger muscles to support you. The result is that you’re less likely to have a fall or fracture. But not just any workout will do. If you’re able, you should do both muscle strengthening and weight-bearing exercises.
Why Weight-Bearing Exercise?
Weight-bearing exercise simply means your feet and legs are supporting you. As the force of gravity puts stress on your bones, they respond by building more cells. These exercises include any activities you do while standing. If you have severe osteoporosis or have already had a fracture, some activities may be risky. So before taking on any new exercise, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s right for you.
Build Muscle With Weights
Lifting weights or using resistance equipment at the gym will build bone and muscle mass at the same time. Aim to work each major muscle group twice a week with at least 1 day of rest in between. If you’re new to lifting weights, check with your doctor first, and work with a trainer to learn proper form.
Dance Your Way to Healthier Bones
Dancing is a well-rounded workout. It gets your pulse up and keeps you on your feet, strengthening your heart, muscles, and bones. Because you need to remember various steps and sequences, dancing is also a workout for the brain.
Tend Your Garden
Carrying a watering can, picking up debris, and doing other yard work can help you build strength. These activities aren’t right for everyone with osteoporosis. Most spine fractures occur while bending forward. If you enjoy gardening, try to keep your spine straight and avoid twisting at the waist

If you’re able to walk at a quick pace  even for short periods  your bones will reap the benefits. Three short walks a day are as good as one long one. Brisk walking is also good for your heart health. If you’re concerned about sidewalk cracks or other tripping hazards, a treadmill is a good alternative.

Walk Briskly
If you’re able to walk at a quick pace  even for short periods  your bones will reap the benefits. Three short walks a day are as good as one long one. Brisk walking is also good for your heart health. If you’re concerned about sidewalk cracks or other tripping hazards, a treadmill is a good alternative.
Join an Aerobics Class
High-impact classes will strengthen bones that are stable enough to handle the force. Low-impact aerobics are a safer choice for people with more severe osteoporosis. And no-impact classes, such as water aerobics, may be the best choice for those who have already had a fracture
What About Swimming?
Swimming builds muscle and gives your heart and lungs an excellent workout. But — because the water is holding you up — it doesn’t strengthen the bones. Swimming is a good option when severe osteoporosis or arthritis makes weight-bearing exercise too risky.
Get Flexible With Yoga
Don’t be fooled by the gentle nature of yoga. Besides improving posture and flexibility, it strengthens bones. Some yoga poses, particularly forward-bends, may not be suitable for people with osteoporosis. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if there are positions you should skip.
Improve Your Balance
Good balance is crucial when you have osteoporosis — being steady on your feet will lower the risk of falls and breaks. Tai chi is one way to strengthen your legs and enhance your poise. A physical therapist can show you other exercises to improve balance.
How Often Should You Exercise?
To boost bone health, do weight-bearing activities like walking or dancing at least 4 days a week. Aim for 30 minutes if you’re able — you can divide the time up into chunks of 10 or 15 minutes. At least twice a week, add in exercises that build muscle. And don’t forget to stretch regularly. If you have any questions about what activities are safe for you, check with your doctor. n
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD



Calcium supplements improve bone health in postmenopausal women, but vitamin D supplements provide no benefit in women with normal vitamin D levels, a new study finds. “These findings suggest that vitamin D supplements over the recommended dietary allowance do not protect bone health, whereas calcium supplements do have an effect,” study lead author Dr. John Aloia, of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., said in a news release from the Endocrine Society. For the study, published September 24 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the researchers examined bone turnover in 159 postmenopausal women. Bone turnover is the body’s natural process for breaking down old bone.
Young people produce enough new bone to replace what is lost, but bone mass in women begins to decline after age 30, and this loss speeds up after menopause. The women in the study were divided into four groups: one group received a combination of vitamin D and calcium; one group took 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily; one group took 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily; and one group took an inactiveplacebo. Levels of bone turnover markers, such as parathyroid hormone levels in the blood, were assessed for six months.
There was a significant decline in bone turnover markers among women who took daily calcium supplements. The vitamin D supplements had no effect on bone turnover markers, the researchers reported.
“Vitamin D and calcium interact to suppress bone turnover by decreasing parathyroid hormone levels,” said Aloia in the news release. “This can be beneficial in women who are vitamin D deficient. In women who already are receiving the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, however, the study found there was no advantage to adding a vitamin D supplement.”
Aloia added: “Women do need to be cautious about the possibility of vascular side effects from too much calcium and should consult their physicians about whether their diet is adequate or whether they should take supplements at all.”
By 2020, half of all Americans over age 50 are expected to have low bone density or osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. This can lead to painful and debilitating fractures.


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