Did you know that your bones are living tissue that can be strengthened with exercise? It’s true. Exercise and bone health go hand in hand. It’s long been known that calcium intake and overall diet play a crucial role in your bone strength, especially later in life, but regular exercise also impacts the strength of your bones.
Exercise and Bone Health
The Importance of Exercise
It’s no secret that exercise is key to your overall health. It improves your mood, boosts metabolism, and keeps your heart and mind strong. But the impact exercise can have on your bones is often overlooked. Just like your muscles, your bones respond to regular exercise and become stronger with time. In addition, also like your muscles, your bones’ density can reduce with age. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our bone mass hits its peak in our 30s. As we get older, our bone mass tends to decrease. Because exercise and bone health are linked, the NIH recommends exercising regularly to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Exercise is important at every stage of our lives, especially as we get older. Exercise improves muscle strength, coordination, and balance, all of which can help prevent falls. And if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your bones are much more susceptible to breaks and fractures. To keep your bones strong and healthy, the NIH recommends exercises that are weight-bearing. These can be as easy as walking and climbing stairs or as rigorous as dancing and jogging. Common workouts like swimming and biking might be great for your cardiovascular health, but they are not weight-bearing exercises and thus won’t significantly improve the strength of your bones.
Dancing, tennis, hiking, and jogging are all examples of high-impact, weight-bearing exercises. These are great ways to improve and maintain your bone strength. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, however, these exercises can potentially be dangerous – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy weight-bearing exercise. For those who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends low-impact, weight-bearing workouts like low-impact aerobics, step machines, and walking.
Whether you have osteoporosis or are in excellent health, it’s important to talk with your doctor before starting a new workout routine. Factors like your age, blood pressure, weight, medications, and overall health could impact the types of exercise best suited to you. That’s why it is always best to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program.
Once you’ve consulted your doctor and discussed exercise and bone health, it’s time to develop a workout routine. You don’t have to spend hours a day at the gym to reap the benefits of working out. Instead, the NIH reports that 30 minutes of physical activity each day is considered optimal. If you have access to a physical trainer or an exercise specialist, know that they can be a huge help. Trainers can make sure you are working out properly and not causing unnecessary strain to your muscles or spine. If you have osteoporosis, you should avoid exercises that require you to bend or twist. A trainer can also help you build a workout routine that fits your needs.
Most people who do not work out regularly become winded and tired faster than those who work out on a regular basis. Don’t let this frustrate you. Over time, your body will adjust and become stronger. Suddenly those same exercises that wore you out will be a breeze. While some pain and soreness is common after working out, be sure to listen to your body. If you’re getting tired, take a break. If your muscles are sore for several days following a workout, you might be overexerting yourself. And if you experience chest pain, stop exercising and consult your doctor.
To learn more about popular exercises for seniors, including tai chi, visit our blog. If you would like to learn more about joining our assisted living community here in Collierville, Tennessee, give us a call at 901-854-6590. You can also contact us online. Our warm and inviting community makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness.