We generally know how to build muscle, make them bigger, stronger and so indistinguishable from one hulky guy to another, but it is rare to think about exercises that build our bones. Remember when your mom used to force you to drink milk so that your bones would grow and be strong? Now that you are a grown ass person, you still need to listen to her, it will just take more than milk to keep them strong.
Muscle vs. Bone: The Difference
When we build muscle, we think of strength training—lifting weights or using equipment—to add resistance and increase the ability to resist force as weight increases and repetition decreases. But to build bone, exercise needs to fall into the weight-bearing category to increase bone density—specifically exercises that move you against gravity in an upright position. Think barbell squats versus jump squats.
Building Bone Density with Both High and Low Impact Exercises
The go-to exercises for building bone density usually involve high-impact to successfully increase bone mass. Some athletes here the words “high impact” and have a flee or fight moment because 1) they have had broken bones in the past and fear the pain of high impact to an old injury or 2) eat things like pain for breakfast. High impact exercises are crucial, but not meant for everyone. Especially for those with bones on the mend or osteoporosis. Lucky for us who have bad knees and flat feet, there are low impact exercises options that aid in bone growth and maintenance.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, some high impact exercises include:
and low impact can be done on/with:
Stair Climbing Machines
Cycling or Swimming do not fall into bone-density types of exercise because they provide resistance rather than impact. These type of exercise are excellent for cardiovascular and endurance building instead.
As we get older, we begin to lose bone mass whether we like it or not. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says that our bone mass peaks in the third decade of our lives and begins to decrease after, making bones susceptible to injury and breakage. Our joints also become less stable and lose the ability to help us maintain balance and prevent a fall. By adding weight-bearing exercises to our workout programs, we can keep our moving parts moving and won’t have to use creaky, achy joints to keep predicting the weather. So shake a bone and save them from getting in trouble.
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