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Categories > Exercise and Fitness > Walking

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Easy exercises that protect your bones

» Walk this way

» Become upwardly mobile

» Run for your bones

» Jump for joy

» Pick up some weight

» Pedal for posture

How much is enough?

If exercise is going to benefit your bones, it needs to be frequent and increasingly challenging. When your routine becomes easy, it’s time to work longer or harder. Experts encourage 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity most days of the week. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

How to select a suitable shoe

Walking in the wrong shoes can cause fatigue, muscle strain or injury. Here are some hints to help you select a pair that will help rather than hinder your exercise efforts:

  • Buy athletic shoes in the afternoon. Why? Your feet can swell by half a size over the course of a day.
  • Look for a shoe with moderate cushioning.
  • Make sure the sole of the shoe bends easily at the ball of the foot.
  • Look for a shoe with a rigid heel that doesn’t bend when you press on it.

Preventing osteoporosis—a loss of bone density that results in fragile bones—is about more than avoiding fractures later in life. Osteoporosis is a condition that can cripple and even kill.

So how can you prevent this destructive disease? In addition to making sure that your diet includes enough calcium and vitamin D, experts recommend that you stick to a regular program of weight-bearing exercise, since bone-building cells are stimulated by exercise.

What’s a weight-bearing exercise? One that puts stress on your bones. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, aerobics and weight training.

Walk this way

Walking offers the greatest health benefit with the lowest risk. That makes it suitable for almost everyone— including first-time exercisers. All you need is some loose, comfortable clothing and a pair of athletic shoes that gives you adequate support and cushioning. The latter is especially important if you’ll be walking on sidewalks, roads or other hard surfaces (see “How to select a suitable shoe”).

Become upwardly mobile

If you’re looking for a workout that’s a little more challenging than walking, try stair climbing. Almost any stairs will do, including those in your office or apartment building. An alternative: Many gyms have equipment that allows you to mimic the act of climbing stairs—and you can read or watch television while you work out.

Run for your bones

Running isn’t for everyone— the stress it puts on feet and knees make it a poor exercise choice for many. But those who enjoy it can be assured of a bone-building workout.

Jump for joy

Aerobics classes led by an instructor are a fun way to build bone strength. If you have a recurring injury that makes it difficult or inadvisable for you to participate, try a “low-impact” aerobics class. In this variety, one foot is always kept on the ground.

Pick up some weight

Weight training is an excellent way to give your bones the workout they need. Try low-weight/high-repetition exercises, which cause fewer injuries than high-weight exercises. Start with half-pound or one-pound weights. As you grow stronger over the weeks and months, gradually increase the weight, adding a little extra only when your routine begins to feel easy.

Pedal for posture

Although not considered a weight-bearing exercise, riding a bicycle has been shown to increase bone density. The key to bone building with a bike is to make sure that the cycling you do is regular and vigorous. The amount of stress on your muscles is more important than how fast you pedal. So, for a more effective workout, tighten the tension on your stationary bike or use a more demanding gear on an outdoor bike.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media