Bones form the framework of your body, so keeping them strong and healthy is essential to maintaining overall health and well-being.
From birth through puberty, girls and boys acquire bone mass at much the same rate. However, after puberty, growth of bone mass begins to slow, and typically, up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys. Bone mass can continue growing until around age 30, after which bone mass begins to decline in both men and women. (Generally, women lose bone mass quicker than men.)
Declining bone health and strength can result in disorders such as osteoporosis, which is most common in postmenopausal women (though men can experience osteoporosis as well). The more active an individual was in his or her youth, the less likely he or she will be to experience an osteoporatic fracture as an adult.
But even if you aren’t in the prime of your youth, with exercise and proper nutrition, you can build bone strength and hold off or even prevent the development of osteoporosis. Much like muscles, bones respond to exercise by getting stronger. Strengthening and weight-bearing exercises promote strong bones and healthy joints. If you want to keep your bones and joints strong and healthy, consider these exercises:
• High-impact aerobics
• Jumping rope
• Stair climbing
• Elliptical training machines
• Racquet sports
• Brisk walking
• Weight lifting
• Elastic resistance bands
• Body weight movements such as squats, lunges and push-ups
• Yoga, tai chi and Pilates
Although they are good for your heart, non weight-bearing exercises such as swimming and biking will not do much to strengthen your bones.
If you’ve already experienced bone thinning, use caution when exercising. Avoid activities that put you at risk of a serious fall, such as downhill skiing, ice skating or inline skating. If you have bone thinning in your spine, some yoga poses (such as deep backbends) could result in injury. Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.