Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disorder that can result in fractures most commonly of the hip and spine. Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women.
Protecting yourself and your bones later in life should be a priority. Eating bone building foods and getting the right exercise can help prevent osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises are preferred because they strengthen your bones and muscles. Here are some of the best:
- Tennis – Tennis and other racquet sports are fantastic for increasing bone density. Every time you strike the ball, you’re working your arm, wrist and shoulder. Plus, with all that moving around, you’re strengthening your hips and spine as well. It’s always more fun to work out with a partner, but if you can’t find one, don’t give up. Singles gives you twice the workout since you’re running around even more!
- Tai Chi – Tai Chi is a form of slow, graceful moves to build both coordination and strong bones. A study reported in Physician and Sports Medicine found that tai chi could slow bone loss in postmenopausal women. Subjects who did 45 minutes of tai chi a day, five days a week for a year, experienced a bone loss rate up to three and a half times slower than those who did not participate.
- Yoga – Yoga improves balance, coordination, concentration and body awareness, which can all help reduce the risk of falling and injury. Plus, a study published in Yoga Journal found an increase in bone mineral density in the spine for women who regularly participated in yoga. Various yoga positions can help build bone strength in your hips, spine and wrists – areas most prone to fracture.
- Walking – Perhaps the easiest exercise of all is brisk walking. It’s free, can be social and can really improve your bone health. A study of nurses found that walking four hours a week gave them a 41% lower risk of hip fractures, compared to walking less than an hour per week. It is helpful to maintain a brisk pace, but if you’re just getting started, go slowly and work your way up as you get into shape. Find a friend and meet up a few times a week to walk your way to better bone health.
- Strength Training – If you’re serious about getting your bones in shape, you’re going to have to lift some weights. You need resistance training whether it’s free weights, your own body weight or machines to work a sequence of muscles and bones. The surgeon general recommends strength training at least twice a week. Remember to start slowly and seek the advice of a professional before beginning a weight-training program.