Exercises that Help To Maintain or Build Strong Bones

shutterstock_451265800Osteoporosis can strike at any age and affects both men and women.

Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms.  It is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disorder, with a loss of the normal strength and quality of the bone, as well as a decrease in bone mass. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue, often described as wear and tear of a previously normal, smooth joint.  *

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.  The bones become weak and brittle making them more fragile and at risk of a fracture. (broken bones) Even a minor fall can have a significant impact –leading to a broken hip, spine, wrist or shoulder (the most common areas at risk)

Exercise is part of a healthy bone strategy

Weight bearing

We all know and understand how important exercise is for heart health. But it can’t be emphasized enough how important regular weight-bearing exercise is for bone health, too.  Weight bearing exercise is when you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting. The result is that weight bearing exercises help to develop more bone mass.   Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones become denser.  It will also improve your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls.   But what about biking?   It’s good for your heart and lungs but is not considered weight-bearing, when you are seated.

Look at it this way.

It is recommended that you walk between three to five miles a week to help build or maintain healthy bones.  If we assume it takes between fifteen or twenty minutes to walk a mile, then spending between seventy-five to one hundred minutes a week (out of ten thousand and eighty minutes in a week) is minuscule compared to the enormous benefits you will reap.

Resistance Training

Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object. Resistance exercise includes free weights or weight machines, water exercises that make your muscles work harder and resistance tubes— incorporated into your regular exercise regime two to three times a week will help build or maintain bone mass.

Stretching and Flexibility

Having flexible joints is another important aspect of help to keep osteoporosis at bay. Regular stretching, yoga, and Pilates are some of the ways you can ensure your joints stay lubricated and flexible.

There are of course other aspects to maintaining good bone health such as eating a healthy diet and ensuring you get enough calcium and vitamin D, but that’s a subject for another blog.

The important thing to keep in mind is that staying active, exercising and stretching are very effective strategies to help prevent osteoporosis.  And even if you have osteoporosis you can still make improvements by exercising.


The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.



* Source Osteoporosis Canada. Speaking of Bones. 2006.



Boning up on Bone Health. Why diet & exercise are important in preventing Osteoporosis


Part Two. *

Bone is a living tissue that is constantly renewed through a process in which old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. Cells called osteoclasts erode the bone, creating small cavities; bone-forming cells called osteoblasts then fill in the cavities with new bone. This is nature’s way of restoring bones and keeping them healthy.

In younger people with healthy bones, the osteoclasts and osteoblasts work together, maintaining healthy bones. However, after our mid-30s the process is not as efficient, and we begin to gradually lose bone. In someone with osteoporosis, bone loss occurs more rapidly, causing the bones to become thinner and weaker over time. If you have osteoporosis, you have already lost a significant amount of bone and may continue to do so unless you receive medication.  Over 80% of all fractures in people 50+ are caused by osteoporosis.

That’s why diet and exercise is recommended as part of an overall healthy approach to preventing osteoporosis.

 We need to emphasize the importance of regular weight-bearing exercise for bone health. Weight bearing exercise, where you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting will help your bones become denser. The result is that you develop more bone material, and your bones become denser. Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones.

It will also help your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls


  • Calcium is the cornerstone of strong bones. Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams per day. Beginning at age 51, women need 1,200 milligrams every day, and when men hit 71, they need to hit that mark, too. The pop star of calcium sources is undoubtedly milk. A single, 8-ounce cup of milk, whether skim, low-fat, or whole, has 300 milligrams of calcium.
  • Not a milk drinker? A cup of yogurt has at least as much calcium as an 8-ounce cup of milk. And 1 ounce of Swiss cheese has nearly as much. Even if you’re lactose intolerant, yogurt and hard cheeses are low in lactose. Or try dairy products that are lactose-reduced or lactose-free. Removing lactose from milk and dairy foods does not affect the calcium content
  • You might be surprised to learn that calcium is plentiful in many vegetables. Go for dark leafy greens such as Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage, and kale. If dairy products, sardines, and leafy greens leave you cold, consider eating fortified foods. These are products that do not naturally contain calcium but have been enhanced with varying amounts of the essential mineral.
  • Breakfast foods are a great start — fortified orange juice has up to 240 milligrams of calcium, and fortified cereals deliver up to 1,000 milligrams per cup. Check the nutritional label for the exact amount.
  • Half a cup of calcium-enriched tofu has as much as 861 milligrams of calcium, but calcium is not the only mineral that gives bones a leg up. New research suggests plant-based chemicals called isoflavones strengthen bone density as well. Isoflavones are plentiful in soy foods, such as tofu, and seem to have an estrogen-like effect on the body. For some women, this is a positive side effect, while others may choose to limit their intake
  • Salmon and other types of fatty fish offer an array of bone-boosting nutrients. They contain calcium as well as vitamin D, which aid in calcium absorption. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, important as antioxidants in the body

 Calcium Supplements

Supplements are an easy way to boost your calcium intake, but some reports suggest you may not need them. If you’re already getting enough calcium from food, taking more in pill form won’t contribute to bone health. Experts say there’s little benefit in getting more than 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and too much can lead to kidney stones. For the best absorption, take no more than 500 milligrams at one time. Some calcium supplements, such as calcium carbonate, are better absorbed if taken with meals; however, calcium citrate can be taken anytime

Vitamin D



Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and store calcium from the foods we eat. Our bodies can produce vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. However, during the winter months, most Canadians do not get enough sun exposure to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, nor do we get enough vitamin D through our dietary intake. However, Vitamin D intake can be enhanced through dietary sources and supplements.  It is important to continue to take Vitamin D, even in the summer months, as we tend to wear sunblock that limits the absorption of vitamin D.

Osteoporosis Canada recommends the following intake of vitamin D (total intake through diet and supplementation) on a daily basis.  For people age 19-50; 400-1,000 IU, and for those of us over the age of fifty; 800-2,000 IU’s.

* Source – http://www.osteoporosiscanada.com