During March Madness, University of Louisville’s Kevin Ware snapped his leg during the middle of the game. The injury was so gruesome it caused players to vomit, coaches to cry and fans to turn their heads in disbelief. While Ware’s injury was looked at as a “freak accident”, its still important to remember to strengthen your bones on a regular basis.
Aside from regular Vitamin D and calcium intake, there are also several exercises that you can do to strengthen your bones. Thanks to The Huffington Post, here are 8 workouts that will help!
1. Strength training
To be effective, strength training should be performed two to three days a week, and weight-bearing endurance (cardio) exercise should be performed three to five days a week,” says Stuhr.
The amount of weight you should use varies, depending on overall health and the bone fitness of the individual, so be sure to start slow and check with your doctor if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia before starting an exercise program.
Also, be aware that exercises strengthen only the bones involved in the exercise. For example, performing squats will strengthen leg bones but won’t help wrist or shoulder bones. Ask your doctor or fitness professional for exercises that will help you target areas that need strengthening.
The simplest, most effective routine: jumping.
“Workouts involving impact increase bone density the best,” says Dr. Irv Rubenstein, exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S. in Nashville, Tenn. For this reason, people who play sports involving jumping and landing, such as volleyball, typically have good bone density. Cyclists, on the other hand, often have low bone density due to the lack of impact.
If your cardio workout consists primarily of elliptical-machine training, you may want to add a few days of walking or other impact exercise. Your feet remain in contact with the pedals throughout the move on an elliptical trainer, which eliminates impact.
“Stair climbers with big steps that require you to use bigger muscles are better,” says Rubenstein.
3. Heel Drops
And, while swimming may be easy on joints and provide a good cardiovascular workout, it won’t do much to build bone. Add a couple of days of land-based exercise to your swimming routine.
Specific exercise recommendations depend on your individual bone needs so see a doctor for advice. But everyone can benefit from lower-body weight training, says Rubenstein. For those with osteoporosis, Stuhr recommends daily “heel drops”: standing on the balls of your feet while on a step and lowering your heels to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Walking can also be beneficial but must be greater than that from activities of daily living, according to Stuhr.
“For example, if you’re on your feet all day, then walking is unlikely to provide sufficient stimulus to provoke a bone response,” says Stuhr. “However, (other high impact and) weight-bearing exercises, such as jogging, aerobic exercise classes, soccer, basketball and very brisk walking over varied terrain would provide bone-building value.”
5. Changing your routine
Varying your routine and using different angles can also help. If you’re performing chest exercises, for example, try dumbbell presses on one day and dumbbell flies or a chest-press machine on another. Once you develop a strength base, adding advanced moves such as plyometric (explosive) exercises provide even greater stimulus, says Stuhr.
6. Basic squats
Basic squats with weight help strengthen the spine.
7. Step-ups and lunges
Step-ups and lunges strengthen hip bones.
Push-ups, which may be done traditionally or against a kitchen countertop, help strengthen wrist bones.
It takes six months or longer of three weekly workouts to make a difference, says Rubenstein, so be consistent to see results.
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