It is no secret that working out is beneficial for health at any age. It helps us gain strength, lose weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and just generally makes us feel better about ourselves. However, have you ever wondered what working out does to your bones? Does it increase or decrease bone density?
We decided to look deeper into the topic. In this article, we will share with you what we found out along the way about what exercise does to your bones. So, let’s just get started.
Exercise and Bones
While many people are aware of the benefits of exercise such as weight loss or increased strength, only a few know that working out can actually increase your bone density, as well as improve the overall health of your bones.
Although people like to think of bones as something very solid, the truth is that they consist of an active, living tissue that responds to working out by becoming stronger. Take as an example kids. Children’s bodies are still in the stage of growth – by performing regular exercise, they can stimulate the cells in their bones to fortify themselves, which contributes to increased bone density, strength, and structure.
When it comes to adults, working out regularly can help the bones maintain their strength, which otherwise would probably be lost due to age and hormone-related changes, according to experts from primalharvest.com.
Factors that Influence BMD
In a report from 2019, prepared by the experts from the University of Michigan, the researchers reviewed data from nearly 50 years (1961-2009) to find out what impact exercise has on bone density. What they found was that there are three characteristics of working out that have the largest impact on bone mineral density. Those are:
- the magnitude of muscle strain an exercise exerts
- the rate of muscle strain an exercise exerts
- the frequency of muscle strain
The researchers are yet to find out which of the following is the most important.
Best Exercises for Increased BMD
There are many types of exercises, all of which carry some sort of health benefits. However, when it comes to building strong bones, the most effective types are weight-bearing and strength-training exercises.
Weight-bearing exercises are those activities that you perform on your feet, and that work your bones and muscles against gravity. They make your bones work harder by making your legs and feet carry your body weight, thus placing more stress on your bones.
Here are some examples of weight-bearing exercise:
- jumping rope
- brisk walking and hiking
- team sports, such as volleyball, basketball, or soccer
- stair climbing
When performing a strength-training exercise, you add resistance to the movement, making your muscles work harder, thanks to which they become stronger over time. Although the main focus of the strength-training exercises is to increase the muscle mass, they also place stress on the bones and have the bone-building capacity.
Some of the most common types of strength training include:
- free weights
- weight machines
- exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups
Is There ‘The Best’ Exercise For Increased Bone Density?
Now, you might assume that all exercises that place significant, repetitive stress on a bone are equally beneficial. However, that’s not really the case. As research has shown, there is one exercise that is far more beneficial than others – that exercise is jumping.
The study performed by researchers from Brigham Young University found that jumping 10-20 times per day with 30 seconds of break between them significantly improved the hip bone’s BMD in women aged 25 – 50 after 16 weeks.
What they also found is that increased bone density is connected with the amount of exercise performed – according to the research, jumping 20 times twice a day resulted in far greater BMD than only doing 10 jumps twice a day.
What’s more, running has also resulted in improvement in BMD – however, it was not as big as it was with jumping. All of this suggests that jumping should be incorporated into every exercise program – even when it comes to low-impact activities such as cycling or swimming.
To make sure that everything is going smoothly with your workouts, here are some additional tips that you might find helpful:
- if you are above the age of 40 or have a health condition such as high blood pressure, obesity, or heart trouble, consult your doctor before you engage in any type of a regular exercise program
- the optimal workout goal is at least 30 minutes daily (or at least on most days) according to the Surgeon General
- listen to your body and don’t overwork it. In the first few days of starting a regular exercise routine, you might be feeling some muscle soreness and discomfort – it’s completely normal. It shouldn’t last for more than 48 hours, and it shouldn’t be painful. If it is, your body might be giving you a sign that you’ve been doing too much, and you need to ease up
- if you experience chest pain or discomfort, stop exercising and schedule a doctor appointment before your next workout
Tips for People With Osteoporosis
People who have osteoporosis need to be careful with their workouts – if not done correctly, exercise can put too much demand on the bones and therefore increase the risk of fractures. Here are some tips for those who want to start working out regularly despite the osteoporosis:
- before you start, consult your doctor to find out which types of exercises will be the safest for you
- if you have low bone mass avoid exercises or activities that flex, twist, or bend
- avoid high-impact exercises to lower the chances of breaking a bone
- additionally, you might want to consult an exercise specialist to learn more about the proper progression of activity, how can you strengthen and stretch your muscles safely, or how you can correct poor posture habits if you have them
The Bottom Line
There’s no denying that exercise is beneficial for people at any age – it can help you lose weight, strengthen your muscles, as well as improve your mental health by making you feel more confident and good in your own body. However, not many people know that working out also has a significant effect on our bones, as it can improve their BMD, also known as bone mineral density.
Keeping your bones in good health is crucial if you don’t want to have any problems with them in the future (or at least not to such an extent as you would have if you didn’t exercise at all). There are a few ways in which you can achieve that, the most efficient ones being weight-bearing exercises, as well as resistance training. To make sure that you are getting the best results possible, you should also incorporate jumping into your workout routine.
However, before you start exercising, it’s always best to consult a doctor, to make sure that there aren’t any exercises that you can’t perform due to your health condition. After all, if done incorrectly, exercise can bring more harm than good, and that’s probably the opposite of what you want to achieve. Good luck!