Bones—they will help you live well and carry you into your golden years if you care for them. You might take calcium for that, but did you know exercise is bone-building, too?
One thing we can’t escape in life is the passing of time—as our life moves along, the aging process naturally tends to diminish the strength and mass of our bones. In other words, bones tend to become smaller and weaker. It’s one reason people maybe become shorter in height as they get older, and may be more likely to break bones.
Osteoporosis, the condition associated with more porous, brittle bones, is the culprit behind many hip and spinal fractures. One way to offset it? Build those bones.
Feed Your Bones with Calcium
There have been plenty of studies to back up the importance of getting enough calcium into your diet, eating calcium-rich foods and supplementing as needed.
The average recommended calcium intake for adults is 1000 mg per day, raising up to 1200 mg per day for women over 50, who are at increased risk for bone loss due to hormonal changes.
Hitting those numbers through diet alone may be accomplished with 3 – 4 servings of dairy products per day plus plenty of leafy greens and/or with calcium-fortified foods. But many adults (especially those who limit dairy foods) can benefit from a calcium supplement, along with Vitamin D, calcium’s partner in bone health overall.
Build Your Bones with Exercise
Risk factors for bone loss or osteoporosis aside from gender (being female), age (over 50) and inadequate calcium intake include family history, smoking, drinking alcohol, and inactivity or sedentary lifestyle.
The benefits of exercise in relation to your bones has been well-studied, with research providing strong evidence for movement, especially load-bearing movement, being able to cause an actual bone boost, whereas calcium intake is better suited for slowing natural bone loss.
That means that exercise can actually increase bone mass and bone strength. And one Finnish study underscores that any type of exercise can help build bones, especially in older women. Whether you lift weights, do Pilates or run on the treadmill, you’re giving yourself an advantage.
Another study has indicated that even microbursts of more intense load-bearing movement have a positive effect. Decreased risk of brittle bones for women in the U.K. study was found among those who ran for just a few minutes each day.
All in all, it appears strong, healthy bones may be built with movement, and maintained with nutrition. Not surprising to find that exercise and diet is the winning combination!