There’s Strength in Numbers! Build Muscle to Strengthen Bones

There’s Strength in Numbers! Build Muscle to Strengthen Bones

Begin today by celebrating May - Osteoporosis Awareness month.  What does building more muscle have to do with stronger bones?  A lot! 

The National Osteoporosis Foundation encourages everyone to do weight-bearing exercises for 30 minutes most days of the week and muscle-strengthening exercises two-three times a week. Both types of exercises help build and maintain bone density.

Weight-bearing exercises include activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright and can be high or low-impact.

High-impact weight-bearing exercises include dancing, high-impact aerobics, hiking, jogging/running, jumping rope, and stair climbing.

Low-impact weight-bearing exercises also keep bones strong but are a safe alternative to high-impact exercises (for example, these exercises are easier on knees and joints).

Elliptical training machines, low-impact aerobics, stair-step machines, fast walking on a treadmill or simply walking outdoors are examples of low-impact exercises. 

Muscle-strengthening exercises include activities that move the body, a weight or another source of resistance against gravity. 

These activities include lifting weights, using elastic bands or weight machines, lifting your own body weight such as standing and rising up on your toes or doing yoga.

Try working just one body part each day when your time is at a premium. For example, exercise arms one day, legs the next and trunk the next. Spread these exercises out during your routine daily activities.

Don’t forget to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise program—particularly if you have health concerns.

Engaging the entire family in regular physical activity pays off no matter your age. Recent research shows that exercise during youth adds extra layers to the outer surface of bone to make the bone bigger. And the bigger the bone generated by physical activity when young, has a long term affect on keeping the skeleton stronger.

What other steps can you take to protect your bones?

  • Make calcium a priority! Did you know bones store more than 99% of the body’s calcium? Milk, yogurt and cheese are rich in calcium along with fortified milk substitutes (such as soy milk), cereal, tofu and fruit juices.  Almonds, dark green, leafy vegetables and canned sardines or salmon with bones are other sources.
  • How much calcium do you need daily? Children need 1,000-1,300 mg, adults over age 18 need 1,000 mg while women over age 50 and men over age 70 need 1,200 mg. 
  • Vitamins D and K and the minerals potassium, fluoride and magnesium work along with calcium to keep bones strong.
  • Get your fill of these nutrients by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, vitamin D fortified dairy and seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and flax.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day.

MoBap registered dietitians can help you determine if you’re dishing up all the nutrients necessary in your diet key for optimal bone health.  

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