Bone Building Moves
Sure, you make certain your diet includes plenty of calcium and ample Vitamin D, but diet is just half the battle. Exercise—especially weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening moves—is the other 50 percent of the equation. Balance exercises can also help you get stronger while reducing your risk of a broken bone.
“The idea is to build bone and muscle strength to protect from falls,” says Nathan Wei, MD, a rheumatologist who practices in Frederick, Maryland.
“Exercise slows bone density loss, and osteoporosis is less prevalent in people who are active. Exercise may also prevent osteopenia from becoming osteoporosis,” adds certified personal trainer Carol Michaels, co-author of Exercises for Cancer Survivors (FriesenPress, 2013), and founder of Recovery Fitness in New Jersey.
Here’s what your bone-building regime should include:
- Weight-bearing exercises
With these exercises, you stand upright and work against gravity—so bicycling and swimming don’t count, notes podiatrist Suzanne Fuchs, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon in New York City and Long Island.
Instead, she recommends dancing, aerobics, hiking, stair climbing, jumping rope, tennis, fast walking, and jumping jacks—“even just stomping your feet.”
“Strengthen your feet and ankle bones—they are the foundation of your body,” says Fuchs.
Try it: You might as well—jump. Women who jumped 10 or 20 times, twice daily, had significantly improved hipbone mineral density after 16 weeks, a recent study showed. So go ahead and jump.
Be Smart: If you are at high risk for osteoporosis or if you’ve broken a bone, stick with low-impact exercises. Stay off the tennis court and try fast walking instead of jogging. And get your doctor’s OK first.
Aim for: The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 30 minutes daily, either in one session or spread throughout the day.
- Strengthening/resistance moves
Lifting weights or using exercise bands and weight machines fit in this category.
Try it: You don’t belong to a gym? No problem: The American Council on Exercise (ACE), which certifies fitness professionals, recommends easy-to-learn, do-at-home exercises (squats, side lunges, and seated row). For details, click here.
Aim for: Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions two or three days a week.
Be Smart: “Start with light weights, increasing the number of repetitions before increasing weight,” says personal trainer Ines Hatch, an orthopedic exercise specialist based in Tyrone, Georgia. “This slowly increases muscle strength while building endurance.”
- Balance-building exercises
Balancing exercises (Tai Chi is a good one) reduce your risk of taking a tumble and breaking a bone.
“Falling and fear of falling is a serious problem for someone with osteoporosis. Some people become inactive due to a fear of falling, which accelerates loss of bone mass and decreases quality of life,” says Michaels.
Try it: The simplest, do-it-anywhere, balance-building move? Stand on one leg for 10 seconds; then switch legs, Michaels suggests. (The National Institutes of Health Senior Health suggests a few other easy moves here.)
Be Smart: Have something sturdy nearby—a chair or wall, for example—for support. And be sure to wear the proper footwear to help keep you steady, says Michaels.
Aim for: “Balance exercise should be performed daily, a few times each day,” says Michaels.
By Maryann Hammers
Tucker LA, Strong JE, LeCheminant JD, Bailey BW. Effect of two jumping programs on hip bone mineral density in premenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2015 Jan-Feb;29(3):158-64. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.130430-QUAN-200.
 Exercise for Strong Bones. National Osteoporosis Foundation website. Available at . Accessed June 11, 2015.
Osteoporosis Exercise for Strong Bones - National Osteoporosis Foundation
There are two types of osteoporosis exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Weight-bearing Exercises These exercises include activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright. Weight-bearing exercises can be high-impact or low-impact. High-impact weight-bearing exercises help build bones and keep them strong. If you have... Read more »
 ACE Offers Three Moves to Care for Your Bones. ACE website. Available at . Accessed June 11, 2015.
ACE Offers Three Moves to Care for Your Bones
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (March 5, 2007) – Bone-loading exercise and a balanced diet are essential for preventing osteoporosis. To take care of your bones now so they stay strong enough to carry you through a lifetime of health and activity, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness, offers three exercises to add to your training regimen to start building stronger
 Exercises to try. NIH Senior Health website. Available at . Accessed June 11, 2015.