Along with a well-balanced diet that’s also rich in calcium and vitamin D exercise is also a vital component in helping to increase bone density and build bone strength - a common concern for women, especially after menopause when bone loss is accelerated.
Just an hour or so of strength training with specific resistance moves twice a week will not only improve your balance (most fractures are caused by falls) and and increase flexibility, but also help build density back into your bones.
Weight-bearing exercises are also important for bone strength and these include any kind of activity where your feet and legs support your weight - think walking, tennis, dancing or even aerobics which are all useful ways to strengthen muscles, ligaments and joints. These are however recommended for two and a half hours every week which is best spread across the day - every day.
Let’s have a look at three exercises that are key for muscle strength and boosting bone density created by our very own Personal Trainer Lucy Miller.
Resistance training is vital for muscle strength. This is where the action of the tendons pulls on the bones to boost bone strength.
Squats are a great way to build strength in your hips and knees.
To do a squat, simply stand with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width distance apart, with your toes slightly turned out (between 5 and 15 degrees).
Initiate the movement by sending the hips back as if you’re sitting back in an invisible chair. Bend knees to lower down as far as possible with chest lifted in a controlled movement. Keep lower back neutral. Press through heels to stand back up to the starting position. Repeat.
Perform three sets of 15 repetitions every morning
Walking is a great exercise to boost bone density and best of all it’s so accessible to all of us. Studies show that post-menopausal women who walked at least four hours a week were 40% less likely to suffer a hip fracture than those who walked less than this amount.
The NHS recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity like brisk walking every week - but studies also show that healthy postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances. Walking is also effective in slowing the rate of bone loss from the legs so why not grab a friend grab a thermos flask (and factor in a daily walk including a nice juicy hill to stimulate the bones (and heart) even further?
Ok, we know this is a summer sport - but bare with us - tennis is great for building bone density and is a fantastic and social way to keep fit too.
Studies also show that individuals who played tennis compared to those who played other sports had higher levels of improved bone health, especially in the hip and lumbar spine regions. Tennis players also had enhanced flexibility, balance and coordination, which can help prevent falls and injuries that can damage fragile bones.
Why not find your local tennis club here?
Don’t forget your post-workout nutrition too.
After exercise your muscles are like a sponge. They are ready and waiting to absorb all the goodness they can, so use this window of opportunity (30-60 minutes after your workout) and be sure to have a meal that’s rich in bone-building protein like fish or eggs, vitamin C-rich vegetables that can help may protect bone cells from damage and plenty of foods rich in calcium like dairy products, almonds, or broccoli as well as vitamin D which will help you absorb calcium.
There’s also plenty of evidence to show that supplementing with collagen can help preserve bone health by reducing collagen breakdown.