3 'golden' exercises needed for strong bones.
Evidence shows that you need three main types of exercise and exercises needed to maintain and improve bone health and strength.
1. Weight-bearing cardiovascular exercises:
Weight-bearing cardiovascular exercises are performed standing up.
When your legs and feet support your body weight your bones have to work harder and that makes them stronger and this increases bone density, especially in the spine and legs.
Walking, jogging, aerobics/dancing classes are some of the best ways to achieve that. Healthy women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This equates to 30 minutes brisk walk a day or two fitness classes a week.
Swimming and cycling, although good for mobility and stamina, are NOT weight bearing, although all forms of physical activity helps to keep you healthy and strong.
2. Weight/resistance training:
Weight training using weights or resistance bands makes your muscles work harder than normal and makes them stronger.
This also works the tendons that attach to the bones which in turn makes the bone stronger.
This is particularly important in the key areas where loss of bone density is most likely to cause fractures in later life.
Women under 60 are more likely to fracture their wrists and shoulders, while women over sixty are more likely to fracture their hip or thigh bone, and spine, in particular the upper or Thoracic spine.
It is therefore really important that we do exercises that will strengthen these areas. The sort of exercises we should be doing are:
arm/shoulder exercises such as shoulder presses
rowing exercises using resistance bands or weights
squats and lunges using dumbells or a bar
2-3 twenty minutes resistance training per week as a minimum either at home or in a gym is needed to see results.
Many women feel that the gym isn't for them, they feel conscious and uncomfortable in gyms, and then it might be an idea to look at women-only gyms such as Gymaphobics. It none of that appeals to you, using light weights and/or resistance bands at home is perfect.
The beauty of these exercises is that not only will they benefit your bones but they will also make you firmer and more toned and before you know it you will notice a difference in how your clothes fit.
3. Activities and exercises that challenge balance:
Activities that require balance such as dancing, tennis and tai chi challenge our stability and increase our balance which is important as we age.
Various studies have shown that it's really important to work at maintaining or even improving balance as we age to prevent falls as and possible fractures as we age.