Active-Steps-Changing-Up-Exercise-Routines-for-Better-Bone-Health

Active Steps: Changing Up Exercise Routines for Better Bone Health

Physical activity is a key component of improved health and is associated with a decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Not surprisingly, exercise also strengthens muscles, can improve balance, and is linked to better mental health.(1) With the many positive aspects of remaining physically fit, it is also important to remember to diversify one’s exercise routine. Sure, yoga or biking are great for health and can be more easily accessible, but varying physical activity to include weight-bearing exercises is a key component to maintaining healthy bones.

By strengthening and maintaining bone, weight-bearing exercise plays a vital role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.(2) Bone health and osteoporosis are important through out the lifecycle – after all, the majority of bone mass is created in the first 30 years of life.(2) This means that, regardless of age, prioritizing bone health and including weight-bearing exercise are essential.

So, what is weight-bearing exercise and what are some examples? Weight-bearing exercises are any form of physical activity that uses the body’s weight or additional weights to resist against gravity. Classic examples of weight-bearing exercises include weight training, walking and jogging. Weight-bearing exercises are activities where your body is hitting the pavement or gym floor without any shock absorption from equipment. Other, lesser-recognized forms of weight-bearing exercise include hiking, climbing stairs, dancing, or playing basketball, soccer or tennis. On the other hand, non-weight-bearing forms of physical activity include swimming and biking. With swimming, the body’s weight is absorbed by the body of water, and with biking, the bicycle cushions one’s weight. Other exercises that are not weight-bearing include yoga, pilates or stretching because the movements tend to be so minimal that one’s bones are not having to make repeated, forceful contact with the ground.

To reap the full benefit of exercise, it is important to make note of existing exercise habits and to see what other options of exercise are easily accessible. And, in changing up your routine, make sure to include weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging or simply taking the stairs more – your bones will thank you.

References:
1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 04). Physical Activity and Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
2) National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Exercise for Your Bone Health. Retrieved from
https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health

By Alexandra Harvey, Tulane Dietetic Intern
February 2018

(Photo by Alexandra Harvey)

(Active Steps is a recurring feature that appears regularly in the Tulane PRC’s e-newsletters and covers fitness and physical activity tips. If you have any suggestions for Active Steps topics, please contact Naomi Englar at nking2@tulane.edu or 504-988-7410.)

Topics:   physical activity , running , walking , biking

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