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Weight-bearing Exercise Helps Strengthen Bones

Posted: June 12, 2009

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Zernicke concluded, “Physical activity is absolutely beneficial for overall bone health. It is a modifiable factor that we can have control of for the development and maintenance of healthy bone mass. Our skeletons are responsive to exercise at different times across our lives. While research stresses adolescence as a critical time for bone development with exercise, physical activity for older men and women equally can improve BMD while at the same time strengthen muscles and improve their balance and coordination — a win-win for the body as a whole." As important as exercise is for everyone, Zernicke recommends the following actions to build and maintain healthy bone with physical activity:

  • Participate in weight-bearing activities such as dancing, jumping, and running – these activities will be more effective for bone health than non-weight bearing activities like swimming and cycling.
  • Encourage adolescents to exercise because they have “a window of opportunity” to enhance bone mass and strength that will carry on for rest of their lives. Activities that can influence good bone health for adolescents include aerobics, football, and jumping activities.
  • Incorporate “rest” periods into an exercise plan – instead of continuous physical activity, break up exercises into multiple sessions so your body can rest. Periods of rest will help your bones program themselves for strength-building and improvement.
  • Exercise no matter what your age – activities for older populations, such as walking, can be effective in enhancing bone health, especially in older men and post-menopausal women.
  • Don’t think that inactivity is protecting your bones (the fear of exercising and falling). Not providing the body with exercise or physical activity can actually cause bones to become weak and brittle. For older populations, a brisk walk can strengthen bones and benefit the body beyond simply bone building.
  • Always consultant with a physician before starting any exercise program.