As we age, our bones naturally lose their density. This loss of bone strength can lead to weak posture, osteoporosis and more frequent bone breaks. Studies have shown that high impact exercises can be very effective in creating stronger bones, and they recommend bone-strengthening exercises for people of all ages.
Why High-Impact Activities?
Higher-impact activities actually stimulate bone growth. People who engage in high-impact activities on a regular basis have better bone density in their legs, feet and especially hips. Statistically, people over the age of 60 are more prone to hip breaks, and such breaks in people over the age of 80 can be so shocking to the system that they never recover. For these individuals, exercises for osteoporosis are vitally important. However, bone density is a concern for people of all ages, particularly those involved in contact sports like football, soccer and martial arts, which all require strong and healthy bones.
Does Age Matter?
Statistically, younger people naturally engage in high-impact activities much more frequently than people over the age of 60. The older we get, the more important bone density becomes. However, as we age, we tend to slow down, reducing high-impact exercise and subsequently not stimulating bone growth needed to prevent osteoporosis and bone breaks. The best case scenario is to exercise daily. The more fit we are, the lower our risk for injury becomes and the more able we will be to handle higher impact activities.
It’s not hard to add some high impact activities to your everyday workouts. In fact, something as simple as hopping 10-20 times per day counts! Here are some more examples:
Most gyms have boxes or adjustable risers used for plyometric training. To strengthen your bones, do three sets of 15-20 jumps.Simply jump up on top of the box, landing with both feet at the same time and hop back down for one reptition. Doing this 3-4 times per week will not only strengthen your bones, but it will add a little cardio, which increases your metabolism and helps burn fat. Win-win, right?
Sprints engage your entire lower body in a high-intensity cardio burst. One form of sprinting exercise is called fartleks. These are best done on a marked football field or with cones to measure distance. You sprint to the five-yard line or cone, and sprint back. Then you sprint to the 10-yard line or cone, and sprint back. Once more to the 15-yard mark and back and you’ve done one fartlek. Do 3-5 Fartlek repetitions 1-2 times per week to increase bone density and strength.
Hopping on one foot for 20-30 seconds, 10 times twice a day has been shown to increase hip bone density in people between 25-50 years old. No equipment or extra space is needed; simply hop, hop, hop your way to stronger, denser bones. If the idea of hopping around the house doesn’t appeal to you, get a jump rope and put on some dance music to help motivate you!
Other High Impact Exercises To Strengthen Your Bones:
- High-impact aerobics
- Stair climbing
- Running bleachers
The New York Times reports that in all of the studies on bone density and bone health, it was found that subjects who were not previously active or those who had never engaged in high-impact exercise need to start slowly and carefully add bone-strengthening exercises to their daily regimens. It’s also recommended to consult a physician before engaging in high impact exercises. This also applies to any person who has previously experienced joint issues such as joint pain, stiff joints or arthritis. This does not necessarily take high impact workouts off the table; it simply means doing so cautiously so as not to overdo it. Taking a conservative approach to high-impact activities after being cleared by your doctor will allow even high-risk people to benefit from these bone strengthening exercises.
In conclusion, the bottom line is that in order to keep our bones healthy and strong we need to do at least some high-impact exercises several times per week. This is true for people of all ages, although some cautionary measures are necessary for those of us over the age of 60 or people with a history of bone or joint issues. The greater our bone density is, the stronger we will be and this will keep us healthier as we age. Remember, it’s never too late to start getting healthy!