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Best Exercises to Increase Bone Density

Wondering what are the best ways to exercise and improve your bone health? Try weight-bearing workouts that stress bones and muscles more than your everyday life.

Exercise & Fitness By Ariba Khaliq / Jan 17, 2015

It is Never Too Late to Focus on Strengthening Bones!

Exercise is an excellent natural way to increase bone density. New bone growth is stimulated when you engage in exercises that put stress on your bones. A Tufts University study showed that women between the ages of 50 and 70 who engaged in regular exercise maintained or increased their bone density, whereas their peers who didn't exercise lost bone density. Good weight-bearing exercises to increase bone density include aerobics, stair climbing, cycling with resistance, dancing and weight-lifting. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Following are 7 best exercises to increase that you should do to increase bone density.
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One fitness trend that never goes away, walking is still hugely popular among women -- and a great way to revamp your bone health. A study of nurses found that walking four hours a week gave them a 41% lower risk of hip fractures, compared to walking less than an hour a week. Brisk walking is best, but you can adapt your speed to your current fitness level. Walking is free, and you can do it anywhere, anytime, even when you're travelling.
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Aerobic dancing is a fantastic cardio-vascular exercise, alleviating the heart rate and supplying ample oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. Done correctly, aerobic dancing can exercise every muscle in your body and burn plenty of unnecessary calories, which even in young children can lead to blood pressure problems and coronary disease. As additional health benefits, dancing increases the bone density and reduces the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes and certain cancers.
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If your bones are still healthy, working out with weight-training machines, free weights, or resistance bands, as well as doing exercises that use your body weight as resistance (sit-ups and push-ups, for example), will all build your bone density. The single best way to increase bone density is jumping (think jumping rope, jump squats, plyometrics).
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Tai chi

A form of slow, graceful moves Tai chi builds both coordination and strong bones. A study reported in Physician and Sports medicine found that tai chi could slow bone loss in postmenopausal women. The women, who did 45 minutes of tai chi a day, five days a week for a year, enjoyed a rate of bone loss up to three-and-a-half times slower than the non-tai-chi group. Their bone health gains showed up on bone mineral density tests.
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A study reported in Yoga Journal found an increase in bone mineral density in the spine for women who did yoga regularly. From the slow, precise Iyengar style to the athletic, vigorous ashtanga, yoga can build bone health in your hips, spine, and wrists -- the bones most vulnerable to fracture. Standing poses like Warrior I and II work the large bones of the hips and legs, while poses like Downward Dog work the wrists, arms, and shoulders. Both the Cobra and Locust poses, which work the back muscles, may preserve the health of the spine. Yoga also sharpens your balance, coordination, concentration, and body awareness -- and thus helps prevent falls.
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Strength Training

Numerous studies demonstrate strength training's ability to increase bone mass, especially spinal bone mass. According to Keeton, a research study by Ontario's McMaster University found that a year-long strength training program increased the spinal bone mass of postmenopausal women by nine percent. Furthermore, women who do not participate in strength training actually experience a decrease in bone density.
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Earlier research has measured that adult male cyclists have lower bone mineral density than age-matched controls, particularly in masters racers with a long history of exclusive training in cycling; adolescent male cyclists also have lower bone density than expected. Besides the immediate consequence of traumatic bone fractures, cyclists with low bone mineral density put themselves at risk for osteoporosis at a young age. These outcomes and a growing body of evidence should convince male cyclists to pay attention to training and nutrition strategies that maximize bone mass.
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