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It’s no surprise that our ability to build bone diminishes as we age. After age 50, most individuals begin losing about one percent of their bone mass each year, with the process significantly increasing after menopause.
Given this information, you can expect one to develop conditions like osteoporosis or chronic pain. However, there’s a way to preserve bone mineral density and prevent these conditions from developing. Strength training uses your body weight or additional equipment, like weights and machines, to act as resistance and strengthen muscles.
But how can you incorporate this activity into your fitness regime to support bone health? In this article, you’ll discover how to build stronger bones with strength training and the benefits you’ll experience from having healthy bone density.
No matter our age, we all need and benefit from having good bone health to keep us on our feet and maintain our posture. Having strong bones also protects vital organs and stores nutrients and minerals, allowing you to move safely and release nutrients when you need them.
Without bone health, many individuals will develop pain and fractures that can result in chronic physical conditions like limited mobility and osteoporosis.
Despite many different bone diseases existing, osteoporosis is the most common condition. With osteoporosis, individuals may notice bones becoming weak to a point where fractures are more frequent. Those living with the condition may often see fractures in the spine, wrists, and hips.
While there are plenty of risk factors that may increase the chances of developing the condition, there are some things you can control to mitigate osteoporosis. For example, you can adjust nutrition to prioritize calcium-rich foods like dairy, soybeans, salmon, and almonds.
Not having good bone health can also result in limited mobility, which impacts how freely an individual can move and perform physical activity. Limited mobility can impact an individual’s ability to walk, run, swim, or perform any movements that involve large muscle groups.
As for fine motor skills, the disability can affect muscles in the fingers, toes, feet, ankles, and wrists, making it more challenging to grip and manipulate objects with their hands.
Strength training incorporates resistance bands, free weights, and weight machines into functional movements to work as an opposite force against the body. This activity engages muscle groups in intense movements, allowing you to build and maintain strength and muscle mass.
But the benefits of strength training don’t end there. What many don’t realize is that strong muscles result in strong bones and improved density, helping offset the development of age-related conditions.
As you perform movements like squats and deadlifts, the stress accumulated from pushing and tugging on bone activates bone-forming cells, putting them in action.
The more often you strength train, the more your muscle mass, connective tissue, and balance with improve, decreasing the risk of falls and injuries.
There are plenty of movements to consider when wanting to build stronger bones. Below, you’ll discover several exercises to try with or without dumbbells.
You can perform bicep curls with dumbbells up to five pounds or with a resistance band. First, take a dumbbell in each hand or step onto the resistance band by holding opposite ends of the device.
Next, pull the weights or band toward your chest, remaining cognizant of the muscle contraction occurring in your upper arms. Lower your arms to the starting position and repeat the movement for eight repetitions.
With foot stomps, your goal is to challenge your hip bones. While standing, elevate your foot and make contact with the ground as if you were crushing an imaginary can underneath.
You can repeat this movement a couple of times on one foot, then switch to the other side. If you struggle to maintain balance, hold onto a chair or sturdy piece of furniture.
Once ready to add intensity to your workout, consider doing 15 minutes on a lateral trainer. This machine can help facilitate the same movement as a static foot stomp. However, this stepping motion on the machine will also target your core, glutes, and thighs.
Squats target your quadriceps, glutes, and hips. Starting with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands on a wall or chair in front of you.
Bend at your knees and slowly descend, keeping your back straight, and stop the descent once your thighs are parallel to the ground. You can slightly lean forward to further engage your quadricep muscles. Afterward, tighten the glutes to return to the starting position.
Hip leg lifts can strengthen your hip muscles and improve your balance. With your feet hip-width apart, shift your weight onto your left foot. Next, flex your right foot while keeping it straight as you lift it toward your side.
This lift should be no more than five inches off the ground. Then, lower the right leg and repeat eight to 10 times.
You can perform hamstring curls in a standing position; remember to place your hands on a chair or another piece of sturdy furniture to maintain your balance during the movement. Standing shoulder-width apart, move your left foot slightly behind you until your toes are the only parts touching the floor.
Contract the muscles in your leg to lift your left heel toward your glutes. Control your foot’s descent as you lower it back to the starting position. You’ll perform this movement eight to 10 times before repeating it on the right leg.
Before attempting these movements, remember to seek your physician’s approval first.
It’s critical to note that while strength training may play a significant role in improving and maintaining bone density, relying on activity alone is less likely to produce favorable results. Fortunately, there are ways outside of strength training that support bone health!
Did you know that about 50 percent of bone composition comes from protein? Ensuring that you consume enough protein throughout your day benefits bone health during aging and weight loss. Individuals over the age of 65 should incorporate 0.45 to 0.55 grams of protein per pound of their body weight each day.
There are plenty of additional nutrients, like vitamin K, that are central to strong bone development. Vitamin K2 can support bone health by modifying osteocalcin, enabling it to bind to mineral deposits in bones and preventing calcium loss.
Common forms of vitamin K2 are MK-4 and MK-7, with traces of MK-4 found in eggs, liver, and meat and MK-7 existing in cheese and certain soybean products.
When discussing bone health and density, many individuals believe that they only need to take supplements like vitamin D and calcium. While they’re not wrong, vitamins alone aren’t the only essential ingredients needed to achieve healthier bones. You can build stronger bones with strength training and adequate nutrition to ensure your body maintains endurance and coordination.