Fitness 101 for Strong Bones

Bone is living tissue, and it gets stronger when you exercise. Specifically, weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise helps to increase bone density and strength; walking, climbing stairs, jogging, dancing, tennis and lifting weights all fit the bill. These forms of activity also increase coordination and balance, both helpful in preventing falls.

Another term for bone-smart exercise is “resistance training.” Resistance training is any form of exercise that forces the body to overcome an externally applied force. Lifting weights or exercising with elastic bands are good examples: your body must work against the force of the weights or the bands. Over time, resistance training increases your strength, power and bone density.

Weights are a popular form of resistance training. If you’re new to weight lifting, consider working with a trainer to learn proper technique and to slowly build your strength. A few other tips:

  • Be sure to work all major muscle groups—chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms, core. Ideally, do two exercises per muscle group.
  • Stay focused and use your core to stabilize your body’s alignment.
  • Over time, aim for 1–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions.
  • Choose a resistance that heavy enough that the last 2–3 reps are challenging.
  • As you gain agility and strength, consider adding some simple devices to simultaneously improve your balance—like standing on a square of two-inch foam or an inflated rubber balance disc.
  • Be sure to rest for 48 hours between workouts. A good plan is three resistance training sessions per week.

If weights aren’t your love and joy … you might try yoga, martial arts and Tai Chi. These excellent exercise forms combine strength, balance and flexibility. Pilates—whether a mat class or using Pilates equipment with a Pilates trainer—offers a good workout for your core muscles.

Before starting any new exercise activity, consult your primary care provider to make sure it is a good fit for your health situation. Looking for a primary care provider? Explore PacMed Primary Care to learn about family medicine, internal medicine and others options.