Just like muscles, your bones are living tissues. They respond to physical stimulation. That’s why regular exercise helps to increase the strength and density of your bones and muscles.
When you constantly stimulate the bones and give them something to do, the body sees that they the bones have more work to do. Therefore, it sets processes in motion to better fortify the bones for that activity.
So, the bones you use more will be stronger. And of course, the average athlete has higher bone mass than the average person who is not an athlete and does not exercise.
Now, if you are struggling with weak bones, osteopenia or osteoporosis, then also you can benefit from regular exercise. However, you need to take caution and engage in physical activity that can help you to strengthen your bones in the right way and also prevent injury.
In this post we will look into how yoga and weight bearing exercises can help you to improve your bone density. We will also go through the details of the appropriate exercise that you should go for in case of weak bones and osteoporosis. Let’s get started!
Exercise and Bone Density
Everyone can use some exercise. Exercise are essential to a healthy life, for now and in the long run. And of course, that means it is important to exercise for bone health also.
Studies have shown that men and women older than 20 years can prevent bone loss by regular exercise.
Benefits of Exercise for your Bone Health
- By exercising, you can prevent osteopenia (low bone density)
- People who exercise have higher peak bone mass or a higher bone density
- Regular exercise can help to prevent or manage osteoporosis
- Elderly people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis can benefit a lot from exercise
Aside from bone health, exercise also has a number of benefits, which include:
- Improved coordination, leading to a lowered risk of falls.
- Improved functioning of the heart and blood vessels with a reduced risk of diseases.
- Better stamina
And of course, there are a host of other benefits to exercising. Everyone should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily for at least 5 days in a week.
Best Exercises to Make Your Bones Strong Naturally
Without further ado, let’s consider which exercises are best for your bones. For clarity, we will separate the exercises into categories.
1. Weight Bearing Exercises
These exercises force you to move against gravity while staying upright. Now, weight bearing doesn’t mean that you have to be pumping iron. It doesn’t have to be something so serious.
The weight you are bearing here is your own weight. Most of these exercises are done on your feet so that you have to bear your own weight against gravity. The strain goes to your bones, thereby building them up in the process.
Weight bearing exercises are classified in two: high impact and low impact exercises. However, we can also bring out another class of medium impact exercises. A little more info on these.
High Impact weight bearing exercises
These are more appropriate for people who have relatively healthy bones. High impact exercises then help to build the bones stronger and keep them healthy for longer. They also help to prevent deteriorating bone conditions.
Warning Note: if you are experiencing low bone density and associated health problems, then you should be wary of high impact exercises. They can worsen the condition instead of improving it.
Examples of these exercises include:
- High-impact aerobics
- Jumping Rope
Medium Impact weight bearing exercises
As you might guess, medium impact exercises are midway between the high and low impact weight bearing exercises. They are not as intense/difficult as high impact exercises, but they are not so leisurely as the low impact ones either.
Examples of these include:
- Stair climbing
Low impact weight bearing exercises
This is more appropriate for people who already have problems of low bone density, like osteopenia or even osteoporosis. Low impact exercises ensure that the bones get exercised without putting too much strain on them.
- Elliptical training machines
- Low-impact aerobics
- Stair-step machines
- Walking (either outside or on a treadmill machine)
2. Muscle strengthening or resistance exercises
These types of exercises require you to move your body or some weight against gravity. Some examples include:
- Lifting weights
- Using elastic exercise bands
- Using weight machines
- Lifting your own body weight
- Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes
Best Yoga Asana to Improve Bone Density
Practicing yoga for osteoporosis can help to build strong bones and prevent fractures and help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. So, as you practice your conventional exercise routines, remember that yoga asanas are also designed to build and strengthen your bones.
You stand to gain a lot from yoga beyond just the physical benefits. It helps to build your mind and improve overall spiritual health.
Here are some yoga poses for bone health:
1. Utakatasana (chair pose)
To perform this pose:
- Put your knees together and sit back like on an imaginary chair
- Ensure that your knees are bent back behind your ankles
- Raise your arms above your head with your abdomen pulled in.
Hold the position for 5-10 seconds and then repeat for another 5 rounds.
2. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
To perform this pose:
- Lie on your chest with your elbows close to your body and palms facing down.
- Inhale while slowly straightening your arms to lift your chest off the floor. Keep reclining back through this. Make sure your navel is touching the floor.
- Hold this posture for 15-30 seconds.
- Gradually exhale and come back down.
Bhujangasana doesn’t only help strengthen your bones, but it also improves circulation, supports liver health and improves overall posture.
3. Shavasana (corpse pose)
To perform this pose:
- Simply lay on your back with arms by your side
- Hold this position for 15-20 minutes
4. Vriksasana (tree pose)
- Stand relaxed with your feet together
- Bend your right knee and place the sole of the right foot on your left thigh
- Put your hands above your head with palms together
- Hold pose for 5-10 seconds while breathing gently
- Gently lower your arms and foot back to the ground.
- Repeat with the other side.
5. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose)
- Lie on your back
- Keep your feet flat on the ground and raise your knees.
- As you do this, you should also be pulling your knees towards your body.
- Stretch out your arms so you can touch your heels
- Slowly raise your back and hips of the ground as you go.
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds
Other Helpful Yoga Asana for Bone Health
- Reclining Hand To Big Toe Pose
- Warrior 2 Pose
- Seated Twist
- Locust Pose
- Triangle Pose
- Extended Side Angle Pose
- Revolved Triangle Pose
Some added Tips to Increase Bone Density with Exercise
If you are healthy and fit, there is not problem you can perform any exercise you feel capable of. However, people with weak bones as in osteopenia and those suffering from low bone density as in osteoporosis need to take added precautions. So, a few useful tips for you are thus:
- Do not overexercise. This is perhaps the most important. When you overdo it, you put your body under stress, leading to the release of the hormone cortisol. In the long run, you develop hormonal imbalances that will be harmful to your bones.
- As earlier mentioned, some high impact exercises may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with osteoporosis. These people can get fractures from performing those high impact exercise routines.
- Be careful with yoga poses that require a lot of balancing, like the tree pose. If you have problems maintaining balance for long periods, you might want to avoid such poses. You can get fractures if you lose your balance and fall. Otherwise, hold on to a rigid support while performing such exercise routines.
- Consult your doctor or fitness expert for advice. They can assess your state and offer better insights as to what exercise will be best for you.
- Consistency is key. Pick an exercise routine that is convenient for you and stick with it.
Achieving and Maintaining Strong Bones and Good Bone Density
With this knowledge you have just gained, you are well on your way to strong and healthy bones.
But it’s not just about exercise. Ensure that you back it up with a proper diet for bone health too. And of course, your lifestyle choices also matter.
Put all these in place, and your bones will remain fit, strong and healthy.
- The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients
- Exercise for Your Bone Health
- Effect of Exercise Training on Bone Mineral Density in Post-menopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies