Hey Angels and Alphas,
Whether we’re talking about female or male fitness, there’s one saying that can be applied to both your muscles and your bones… if you don’t use it, you lose it.
But let’s face it – the best time to “build bone” has already passed for everyone reading this. This is because about 40 percent of our total bone mass is gained during a period in adolescence that lasts about 4 years.
That being said, even though we should reach about the peak of our bone mass at around age 20, you still have the capacity (however limited) to gain bone up to about age 50.
Most people tend to believe that bone is static – it’s not. The most important way to increase your bone mass – and then further preserve it in your 50s and beyond – is to exercise properly. Bone can also adapt to the various types of mechanical forces that it experiences throughout your life. When the cells inside your bones start sensing these forces, they naturally send biochemical signals to other cells that can either add or remove these cells as necessary.
The result? Our bones become stronger.
The connection between strong bones and strong muscles!
If you want to send these exact biochemical signals through your body, your best bet would be to include resistance training in your workout regimen. During weight-bearing movements, gravity is the mechanical force that your body and your bones are working against.
Exercises such as jumping rope, running, strength training, and plyometrics, they’re all resistance training exercises that have been shown time and time again to improve bone health in adults.
The health of our bones and muscles are linked in two major ways.
First of all, people with strong muscles have been shown to generate more forces on their bones because the muscles have the capacity to compress the bones.
And second, there’s also a biological link that relates to the cells in the muscles and the way they wrap around your bones and communicate with the cells on the surface of your bones. Basically, anytime you’re doing something that will help your muscles grow, you’re also doing something that helps your bones.
And let’s not forget – high-impact exercises are also included here. Many people tend to think high-impact exercises are just bad for our joints, our bone cells tend to like it when forces are applied quickly and directly.
If you’re not someone with bad knees, you can definitely include some running or jumping exercises for promoting bone health.
However, if you do have joint pain, you can still modify these exercises to match your comfort level, so you do get the added benefits without aggravating your pain.
You might not be able to jump as high, but you’ll still be able to put the necessary stimulus that will improve your bone health and make your bones stronger. Some studies have even pointed to the fact that progressive high-impact workout protocols have been effective at improving patellar cartilage quality in women with mild knee osteoarthritis – without causing pain!
How you can adapt low-impact exercises for better bone health.
You have types of training out there, such as yoga which is technically weight-bearing, but it tends to be slow at producing bone health benefits. Similarly, walking is another type of exercise that’s good for our bones, helps keep muscles strong, and has cardiovascular benefits. That being said, it’s very unlikely that walking will help you gain any bone. You’ll need to do more than just walking or yoga to build and maintain bone mass.
If you tend to enjoy such activities or other non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming, for example, you can just add some strength training to your regime. Even one or two sessions a week can be all you need to reap all the benefits you desire.
For the best benefits, you can do exercises with some type of resistance – weights, resistance bands, etc. Even light weights can actually improve your bone mineral density as you’re performing a higher number of reps.
And finally, if you are looking to maintain your bone mass or build more, you can’t ignore other vital factors. Smoking and alcohol consumption have been shown to increase the risk of bone-related diseases. If you need help quitting or you just want to reduce your intake, there are plenty of ways you can go about doing that.
The oxidative stress from the free radicals can cause your bone mass to dwindle. So remember to always consume a diet rich in various antioxidants if you want to support your bone health and your overall health. And never forget to be mindful of your calcium and vitamin D intake, as they’re two minerals directly linked to bone health.