Improving bone density as you age
Throughout our lives bones are continuously changing. They adapt and change to get stronger and more resistant to breaking under stress. However, they get weaker over time.
While our bones are capable of withstanding various amounts of stress, they need to be looked after. The breakdown that occurs from our day to day lives can significantly outweigh our bone’s ability rebuild and adapt. Many factors contribute to determining bone strength. Bone mineral density (BMD) is a measure of bone health that measures collagen traits. This reduces as we age.
Research has shown that individuals who engage in regular weight-bearing activities typically demonstrate higher bone masses compared to those who don’t. Individuals who are involved in higher impact sport show superior bone mass. These sports include
Comparatively, sports lower in impact such as swimming and cycling result in lower bone mass.
Although a whole-body approach is important when it comes to exercise, it is also important to understand which bones may be at an increased risk of developing fractures and breaks. Furthermore, the most common sites reported regarding osteoporotic fractures are the spine, hips, wrists, humerus (upper arm) and the pelvis. This is why activities which are weight-bearing may provide substantial benefits for bone health.
The types of activities that are considered weight-bearing consist of:
- Resistance exercise
The impact that is created from these types of activities creates strong bones. Further, activities that include the use of external weights or resistances have positive effects in building stronger and healthier bones due to the type of stress placed upon them.
How Much Loading for your bones?
While everyone is different and will require different doses for optimal health. It is recommended that individuals should aim to complete activities that include impact loading and stimulate bone growth 4-7 days per week. The activities included should look to be multidirectional and should vary in the type of impact used (jumping, skipping, walking, running). Activities that utilise external weights/resistances that also challenge balance should be included. This should be aimed for a minimum of 2 days a week.