Strong Bones Need More than Walking

Healthy aging demands a body that helps us overcome other problems and illnesses. And, being active aids your muscles, circulation and more. We need a sturdy frame to help us handle anything that aging can throw at us. We all want to have strong bones. Many of us strive for healthy bones by walking or with water aerobics. It’s exercise that can help strengthen your body while being low impact. Any form of exercise is wonderful and supports your overall health. However, new research is showing that these forms of low-impact exercise help health but not bones.

Many things can negatively impact bone health, including colas, a lack of vitamin D or calcium, wearing unsupportive food, ignoring sleep problems and more. Changing your habits, lifestyle and diet are so important; they may not be as important as exercise. Learning that our go-to activities aren’t doing the trick comes as a bit of a blow.

Scientists at Deakin Univ. saw that the majority of Australians over the age of 50 do not get enough exercise to help their muscles or bones. Many people are confused as to what’s best. For instance, some people think if walking isn’t great, then jogging must be better. However, jogging is a high impact exercise that can lead to broken bones. While jogging may seem like a good idea, it puts a great deal of strain on your bones. And, if you are suffering from weak bones, it can be a recipe for disaster.

Your bones are there to support your muscles to create movement, so if you have low bone strength, you’re at increased risk of having a fracture,” said Prof. Robin Daly, Chair in Exercise and Ageing at Deakin Univ.’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition. “But osteoporosis or low bone density is a hidden disease. The only way you know if you have it is if you have a scan or you sustain a fracture.”

The reason exercise is that bones need a workout. Prof Daly explained, “Weight-bearing exercise is crucial to maintain our bone health. Unlike our cardiovascular system, bones like to be regularly stressed and will adapt positively to the loads and demands placed on them.”

But don’t worry, bodybuilding isn’t necessary. While weightlifting is excellent, it needn’t be big barbells. Things like adding weighted belts or vests can be great, you’re lifting extra weight with every step, shifting those pounds as you move. Moderate-intensity exercise is a boon for bones. Using elastic bands for resistant training is also an excellent way for you to build up strength and positively put stress on your bones. This also allows you to ramp up your activity. Trying to pick up something like time on a Stairmaster, playing tennis or attending step classes is great, but it’s hard to go from zero to sixty when it comes to exercise. That’s why we like weighted belts: you can add or subtract pounds. We also like that dancing is moderate intensity — it’s something that costs nothing and that we enjoy.

Finally, the researchers gave us some good news. It might come as a blow to find out that walking alone is not enough for health. But, the study also showed that short, rapid bouts of weight-bear exercise were more beneficial than longer sessions. We’ll take shorter bursts of workouts for the sake of our bones!

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