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Bones and Weight Lifting

There is more to taking care of your bones than making sure you get enough vitamins for your bones.
Bones must be used or they will lose their strength and density. Bones are living tissue and respond to use similar to the way muscles do. Muscles get stronger and bigger the more we use them. Bones become stronger and denser the more we use them. Recent studies have show that best bone building and maintenance exercise are high impact, weight bearing exercise such as: hiking, jogging/running, high impact aerobics, dancing, climbing stairs and jumping rope.

Not everyone can participate in these high impact activities so there are lower impact alternatives to these exercises. Lower impact exercises include: walking (treadmill or outside), low impact aerobics, elliptical training machines and stair step machines.

Resistance training and strength training exercises are also important for building bones. There include a variety of weightlifting exercises, including using elastic bands and your own body weight.

The University of Arizona’s Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition released a book in 2005 titled “The Best Exercise Program for Osteoporosis Prevention.” It contains a list of what they consider to be the six best exercises for building and maintaining healthy bones. This list was featured in the Saturday Evening Post’s September/October 2007 issue. These exercises help strengthen certain groups of bones.

The exercises that strengthen the spinal vertebrae and the lower spine (lumbar spine) are the following:
the one arm military press, the lat pull down, the lower back extension and the seated row.

The exercises that strengthen the thighbone and the femoral neck (these bones connect the thighbone to the hip bones) are: the wall squat and the leg press.

These are considered the six best bone building exercises because these are the bones that help stabilize and balance the body as we grow older, which is very important.

There are other non-impact exercises that can be done to help strengthen the muscles around these bones. These exercises also promote balance and good posture and they include Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates.

Remember that in order to build bone density and strength the exercises done must be weight bearing even if it is just your own body weight. Check with your doctor before starting any programs and let them help you decide which programs will work the best for you.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a lot of information available about bones, how they grown and change and how to strengthen them. Visit their website at www.nof.org for more information.

The University of Arizona also has excellent information on their website. They have a website called “Bone Builders” that is a wonderful place to learn how to create healthy bones by making healthy choices. The link to this website is: http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/fcs/bb/nutrition.html.