If you were to make a list of all the reasons you exercise, chances are that “healthy bones” wouldn’t make the top five. After all, most of us can’t see or feel unhealthy bones. Still, exercise is just as important as nutrition when it comes to building — and maintaining — strong bones. And strong bones keep us going longer in life — move it now and you’ll be moving later too.
Hit the Ground Running
Any type of weight-bearing exercise — that is, activities that force you to work against gravity — will benefit your bones. How? The impact of your body pounding the pavement tells your bones to produce cells called osteoblasts, which are cells that strengthen your skeleton. Weight training helps build bone in a similar way: Working against the weight also sends the cell-building message to your bones.
While experts have known for some time that resistance training and weight-bearing exercise will fortify your frame, some new research suggests that the higher the impact, the better. Put those osteoblasts to work with any of these activities:
- step aerobics
- jumping rope
If you get your cardio from swimming or biking, you may not be making enough of an impact on your bones, so it’s extra important that you incorporate resistance training — working out with weights or resistance bands, for instance — into your routine.
It All Abs Up
Six-pack abs aside, if you’ve been looking for a reason to add some stomach strengtheners to your routine, here’s one: good core strength (that is, strong muscles in your middle) has been tied to healthy bone density.
Before you groan over doing crunches, give ab exercises on an inflated exercise ball a try. Then add this exercise to your routine:
Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat.
- Sit on the ball, then slowly walk your feet forward until your lower back is pressing into the ball and your knees are at a 45-degree angle; your pelvis will be slightly higher than your knees.
- Hold your hands near your ears, elbows out to the sides.
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your head and shoulders up, curling your rib cage toward your pelvis.