With every passing day, as time starts to slowly change the way you look and feel, the need to take care of your body, especially your bones, increases significantly. And one of the best ways to maintain your youthfulness and sustain the health of your bones is through physical activity, because by exercising you will ensure a healthier body, stronger bones and more youthful appearance.
Whatever you age, there’s a wide array of exercises that can be performed at different stages of life to keep your bones healthy:
Teenage: The doorstep to the future This is the time when things like school, parents, friends, homework or college and of course, what's going on with your body are what mainly fill your mind. At this time you're probably worried about how you look, although at this stage your body is still growing and changing and all you need to do is wait. During this time your bones develop the fastest and peak bone mass is achieved. And this is especially why exercise is important for bone health and your overall fitness.
With your energy levels as high as they’ll ever be, this is the perfect age for group exercises: school competitions: running, track and field; team sport: football, volleyball, tennis; or neighbourhood games with friends are a great way to be active. Additionally, they will also help build social and interpersonal skills. Most importantly, a healthy sports spirit will add to the physical benefit of working out and help develop self esteem.
These forms of physical activities are mostly aerobic exercises that are weight-bearing i.e when your legs carry your body weight. For teenaged girls, these will help reduce the risk of osteoporosis or thin and weak bones by strengthening both muscles and bones.
With your energy levels at their peak and with your main responsibility being your homework, this is a fantastic time to focus on your workout and get going on daily basis, to set the stage for a healthy, active future.
Adulthood: Responsibility, commitments and seeking success At this stage, you would have achieved your peak bone mass and will need to maintain your bones for a healthier future. This is because once you cross the age of 25, you either maintain your bones or start losing bone mass and strength.
By this time, it would probably be more difficult to maintain the same group activities due to a busier schedule and added responsibilities. But you should never give up, especially if you were athletic, because it will be harder on your body to adapt to a lack of exercise.
The simple solution, as boring as it may sound, is to “HIT THE GYM”. Yes, for the first few times get help from a personal trainer to show you the correct ways of working out.
Combining weight-bearing exercises such as walking briskly, climbing stairs and dancing with strength training (using light weights) is very beneficial for you bones and your whole body. These exercises will strengthen your muscles, improve your posture and help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
You could also join group exercise sessions, where music and the presence of other people around you will add to the energy of your workout, taking you back to your school days with your “gym buddies”.
But always remember that you should make your time at the gym as concise and effective as possible, since a three hour workout every day will be hard to maintain! Spend 1 to 1.5 hours most days of the week. And it’s always a good idea to consult your physician before initiating any exercise program.
If you are on a weight loss diet, you may be at risk of losing bone mass, making it even more important to exercise and follow a healthy balanced diet rich in calcium.
Pregnancy: Excitement, happiness and preparation Most women benefit greatly from exercising when pregnant. But during that time you'll need to discuss your exercise plans with your doctor. Exercise can help relieve backaches and improve your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back, bottom, and thighs. It will also help prevent wear and tear on your joints by activating the lubricating fluid in your joints, which become loosened during pregnancy due to normal hormonal changes. All in all exercise is great for your whole body as well as your muscles and bones.
What are safe exercises during pregnancy?
- If you’ve exercised regularly before your pregnancy, you should continue the same with minor modifications as required. You can still maintain your strength routine (light weights, pushups, lunges, etc) and some forms of aerobic exercise.
- If you weren't all that active and fit before you became pregnant, don't worry! Begin slowly and build gradually; even 5 minutes a day is a good start if you've been inactive, but be careful not to over-exert yourself and avoid bouncing. Add 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes. Mix low-impact aerobic exercise or walking with some low intensity strength training: light weights, lunges and flexibility exercises or yoga specific to pregnant women. And don’t forget the wonderful benefits of swimming!
Middle Age: Achievement, success and satisfaction Exercise is essential in order to reduce the rate of bone loss associated with this age group. Keep in mind that the more bone mass you acquired during your teenage and early adulthood, the better you are equipped to fight osteoporosis. Always check with your physician about the most suitable types for you.
A regular program of physical activity, like walking, yoga or other flexibility exercises can keep your muscles relaxed, your joints mobile and you posture straight. Swimming also has a beneficial effect on bones and your body.
You can perform these activities 3 to 4 times a week. Combining these activities with strength training (using light to medium weights) would be even more beneficial.
Whatever your age, the most important thing to remember is that eating healthy and exercising are essential to your bones and your overall health! So go ahead, indulge in the exercises that you like and perform them regularly for a healthier stronger you!