Exercise is important for your overall health and well-being, but when it comes to bone health, it's crucial. Exercising regularly and performing the right types of exercise can help improve bone density and strength as you age. Keep reading to discover exactly how exercise helps protect against bone-related illness and some exercises you can use to get started!
How Exercise Helps Protect Against Bone-Related Illness
Leading an active lifestyle can help protect against bone-related illness in men and women of all ages.
Strength Training Helps Boost Bone Density
Resistance training can help prevent bone-related illness by increasing your bone density. Weight-bearing exercise, like lifting weights and even running or walking, puts stress on your bones, which signals bone-forming cells to get to work. As a result, over time, bones become denser and stronger.
Weight-bearing exercises can include:
- Lifting weights
- Jumping rope
- Playing sports
- Climbing stairs
- Bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups
- Resistance bands
High-impact activities put the most stress on your bones to help improve density.
Low-Impact Exercises Improve Balance and Cardiovascular Health
Low-impact exercises such as water aerobics, cycling, yoga, or tai chi can also help prevent bone-related illness by improving balance and cardiovascular health.
Better balance, flexibility, and heart health can all contribute to a healthy lifestyle, prevent falls and keep your bones healthy.
Exercise Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight
Exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight and, consequently, help stave off bone-related illness.
Research has found that type 2 diabetes and obesity can lead to weaker bones. That same study found that exercising prevented weight gain and diabetes in those who were obese. It also increased bone strength.
While exercise can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight, it’s important not to overdo it. Excessive exercise can have the opposite effect. When you lose weight, you also lose bone. Being underweight can increase the risk of bone fractures. Exercising too much and eating too little can lead to bone damage and other health issues.
Exercises That Can Help Keep Bones Strong and Healthy
Weight-bearing exercises have the biggest impact on bone density and health. Here are a few to try.
Bicep curls put a strain on the bicep muscle, but they also help build stronger bones in our arms. For this exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band. If you’re new to strength training, keep it light (1-5 lbs.).
You can perform this exercise while sitting or standing. However, if you struggle with balance, seated curls may be best.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, or stand on one end of a resistance band while holding the other end in your hands.
- Start with your arms straight down.
- Pull the dumbbells or band up toward your chest, bending at the elbow.
- Lower your arms back down to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times. Rest, and perform 2-3 more sets.
As you gain strength, you can increase the weight or resistance.
Squats are an excellent exercise for building lower body strength. You don’t need to perform a deep squat to feel the benefits. Best of all, you don’t need any special equipment.
If you’re struggling with your balance, make sure that you perform this exercise near a chair or table for counterbalance.
To perform a squat:
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
- Hinge at the hip and bend at your knees to squat down.
- Keep a flat back, lean forward slightly, and make sure that the bulk of your weight is on your heels.
- Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- While tightening your buttocks, return back to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Perform three sets of 10 squats.
The ball sit exercise can help improve core strength, which will help with balance. For this exercise, you will need a large exercise ball. For safety, have someone act as your spotter to prevent you from falling if you lose your balance.
- Start by sitting on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the ground.
- Keep your back straight to maintain your balance.
- Hold the position for as long as possible or up to one minute.
- Stand up for a quick rest.
- Repeat a few more times.
Shoulder raises will help strengthen the muscles and bones in your shoulders and upper arms. For this exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band. You can perform this exercise while standing or sitting.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, or stand on the end of a resistance band while holding the other end in your hands.
- Begin with your hands down at your sides.
- Slowly begin raising your arms straight out in front of you. Keep your elbow soft.
- Lift to shoulder height or whatever height feels comfortable for you. Do not go any higher than shoulder level.
- Repeat 8-10 times. Rest, and perform 2-3 more sets.
Exercise plays an important role in bone health. Leading an active lifestyle can help protect against bone-related illness while improving your overall physical and mental health. These exercises are a great place to start, but any weight-bearing exercise will help improve bone density.
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