Run For Your Bones: how weight bearing exercise builds bones

November is bone health month – so join us for our Family Fun Run/Walk on 25 November at Durbanville – and “Rattle them Bones”!

Here’s why you should be joining us

Bones are living organs, and during your early to mid-20s, your bones accumulate a goodly supply of calcium. However, once you hit your 40s, bone mass starts to decrease. If you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, your body will take it from the bones, thus weakening them. However, an invaluable way to keep your bones healthy and strong is exercise. Physical activity is one of the best ways to keep your bones in good condition, whether you’re young or old.

There are many kinds of exercise you can do to help your bones stay healthy. These exercises may change as you age, but if you begin an exercise regime at a young age and keep it up even into old age, you can be sure that your muscle-skeletal system will remain strong. And the best exercises you can engage in, are weight-bearing exercises. And possibly the best of these, are walking or running.

Weight-bearing exercises

These exercises make you work against gravity and strengthen both bone and muscle. Any exercise you do on your feet is weight-bearing because the bones in your legs are supporting your weight. Weight-bearing exercises can be high or low-impact. For patients with established osteoporosis, low impact exercise like walking is better.

Weight-lifting: You don’t have to be powerful to get the benefits of weight training. Training with low weights repetitively can increase bone density up to 22% in postmenopausal women, who are at increased risk of osteoporosis. The force of the impact stresses your bones and your body responds by making them stronger. So, it’s good for everyone’s physical fitness profile.

Yoga: During yoga you support yourself with your arms or your legs. This impacts the bones, and also improves flexibility and balance. Yoga has the potential to increase bone density in the spine and hips, as well as strengthen core muscles needed to protect the vertebrae.

Dancing: This pleasurable activity lies between walking and running. But your feet moving and tapping on the floor will strengthen the bones in your legs. Older adults who engage regularly in dancing, stand to increase their general physical fitness, as well as strengthening their bones.

Tennis: Running and jumping and stretching as you pound around a tennis court is real high-impact exercise and excitement. This will not only strengthen your legs but also your shoulders and arms too, as you whack that ball over the net, presenting those upper muscles with plenty of bone-building resistance.

Walking/Running: Walking and jogging will strengthen your leg bones since they’re supporting your bodyweight during this action. As you walk or jog, the repeated force of your feet against the ground will further stress your bones and make them stronger. The bounce we get with running really “loads the bones”.

Why we should move!

So, if you really want to stay healthy as you get older – key exercises must include some weight-bearing.

  • Exercises such as swimming and cycling, provide no impact on the bones, and are therefore less beneficial than walking or running. Sticking to low-impact workouts isn’t really helping your bone strength. It is however good for muscle building.
  • Weight-bearing exercises stimulate osteoblasts, the bone cells that are responsible for bone growth. So, bone cells respond to impact by forming bone.
  • When running, every time your heel hits the ground, it creates an impact on your bones that prompts more bone growth. Walking has a similar effect, though to a lesser degree.
  • No matter what exercise you choose to do to bolster your bones, consistency and variety are important. A 30-minute workout three times a week is recommended.

Love your bones!

Join us for our Family Fun Run/Walk on Saturday, 25 November at Durbanville

Where: NG Kerk Bergsig corner of Boland and Protea Way, Durbanville

Time: Race starts at 08:00 (registration 07:00 – 07:45)

Entry fees: Children 0-7 years – free / Children 8-18 years – R60 / Adults – R100

NOFSA (National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa)

NOFSA is the only non-profit, voluntary health organisation dedicated to promoting lifelong bone health. We focus on reducing the widespread prevalence of osteoporosis while working to find a cure for the disease, and by supporting research and developing programmes of education and advocacy.

Find out more about our work at: www.osteoporosis.org.za

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *