There are plenty of good reasons to lift weights as part of a regular workout routine. Increasing muscle mass and tone makes nearly every physical activity easier to do, it helps avoid unwanted fat gain, it improves athletic performance and it can dramatically improve self-confidence and self-esteem.
But one of the best reasons for women to add more weight-bearing exercise to their workouts is to build stronger bones, which may prevent the onset of osteoporosis in older age.
Any time you strengthen your muscles, you strengthen the bones, but some exercises are more effective at the job. Weight-bearing exercises, such as running, jumping, hopping and lifting weights, are the most effective type of exercise for strengthening the bones.
It’s never too late to increase bone density by adding strength training exercises. Studies show that even people in their 60’s and beyond, can significantly increase the density of their bones when they perform regular weight lifting exercises.
So just what are the best exercises for building bone density?
Ideally, lift as much weight as you can safely control for 6-10 repetitions, rest and repeat a total of three times.
If you are new to weight lifting, get guidance from a coach or trainer to avoid unsafe lifting technique and reduce your risk of injury. Start with lighter weights that you can easily control, and over time, build up to heavier weights.
There are many different exercises you can add to a routine design
ed to improve bone strength, but five of the best include:
And although it’s not considered an exercise specifically for building bones, balance training is also recommended for anyone who wants to improve muscle strength, coordination and stability which can go a long way to decrease the likelihood of falls or fractures, particularly in older adults when bones are often slower to heal.
The best moderate-impact exercises for building bone density include:
- Running or Jogging
- Stair climbing
- Yoga or Pilates
- Court or Racket Sports
- Balance Training
Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.
About the writer – Elizabeth Quinn, Sports Medicine Expert. She is an exercise physiologist and fitness consultant who has been writing about sports medicine, injuries and training techniques and working with athletes for over a decade.
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