After spending these past couple of months researching about bone health, it has become increasingly evident to me that probably the main reason the bones in the body of my 105-year-old grandmother are so strong is that she incorporated exercise into her daily routine at an early age…and never gave it up! (How many ladies join an exercise group at the age of 102?)
Much like muscle, our bones are living tissues that become stronger in response to exercise. Young women who develop the habit of regular exercise achieve greater peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) than those who do not, according to the experts at www.niams.nih.gov. For most people, bone mass peaks during their third decade of life. Starting in one’s 20s, bone loss can begin. Exercise allows us to maintain muscle strength, balance, and coordination. As such, we are less likely to fall and sustain a fracture.
What is the best form of exercise to help build our bones? If you own a pair of sneakers, you are on your way. Some examples of weight-bearing activities include walking, hiking, running, climbing stairs, dancing, tennis, and weight training. While swimming and cycling are great for their cardiovascular benefits, they do not play a key role in exercising your bones.
Before you begin your exercise program, consult with your physician, especially if you are over 40 or have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or are obese. The Surgeon General notes that a goal of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days, preferably daily, works to our benefit. (And, no, this does not include getting up off the couch at each commercial break to run to the kitchen for another snack!)
Be sure to listen to your body’s signals once you have begun an exercise program. Most likely, you will experience some muscle soreness at the beginning, but do not let that deter you from your goals. The soreness should not last more than a couple of days. If it does, this may mean you have exercised too hard and might need to ease up a bit.