Most people know what they need to do to lose weight, although applying the knowledge can still be tricky. However, it’s very hard to know what you can do to improve your bone health. We have probably all heard that calcium is very important for our bones, which is true, but getting enough calcium in your diet alone might be not enough.
A diet consisting of quality whole foods and exercise are both very important for bone health, like they are for all other aspects of a healthy lifespan. As we age we may find ourself facing bone fractures which can be life threatening, especially when we are older.
Bones include a protein matrix (collagen) filled with minerals (calcium phosphate) and are remodeling, or breaking down and building up again, throughout our whole lifetime. However, if you have a condition such as osteoporosis that causes bones to become brittle and weak then the remodeling of new bone can’t keep up with the breakdown process. And unfortunately many people have no signs or symptoms that they may have osteoporosis until they actually get a fracture.
In addition to consuming nutrient dense healthy foods, it is strength training and weight bearing exercises that are most important when it comes to strengthening our bones, preventing bone loss, and improving and repairing bone health. Bones are also living tissues that respond to exercise so when you do resistance exercises, or similar activities, the bones respond in the same way that the muscles do. Exercise also improves balance and coordination, it improves the stabilizing (core) muscles, and helps improve and maintain strength which then reduces the risk of friction and falls. Avoiding too much sitting as well as working on the stabilizing muscles, such as the erector spine and the transverse abdominis, can also help. It is also important to pay attention to posture and to work on the body’s alignment.
My favorite type exercise is strength training. While focusing on increasing muscle mass you put stress on the bones as well, which then helps increase the body’s bone-building capacity. You can do this at home using bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, dumbbells or of course going to gym to use weight machines. It is ideal if you can do this two to three times a week. You can also do weight bearing exercises, which are ones that force you to work against gravity — including walking, running, pickleball, climbing stairs, dancing, hiking or tennis. When your legs and feet are carrying your weight you give more stress on your bones which can also improve bone health. If you’re already very active then jumping rope and sprinting are the high impact exercises that would be most helpful to increase bone health.
Finally, it is important to understand your individual risk for osteoporosis, and this can include genetics factors as well. So together with your exercise it is important that you consume enough vitamins such as vitamin C, D and K2, minerals such as calcium and magnesium, good quality protein, and healthy fats. Combined, this will all help you reduce your risk factors and improve your overall health.
“Higher protein intake while dieting leads to healthier eating”; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220627141426.htm
“Optimal Protein Intake Guide”; https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/
“How to build and strengthen our bones”; https://healthangelwarrior.com/how-to-build-and-strengthen-our-bones
“Exercise for Your Bone Health”; https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health
“Exercise and Bone Health”; https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/exercise-and-bone-health/
“Biology of Bone Tissue: Structure, Function, and Factors That Influence Bone Cells”; https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2015/421746/
“What Is Bone?”; https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/what-is-bone