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Bone Health: 8 Workouts That Strengthen Your Bones (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 12/30/10 07:53 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET


Strong bones take work. Aside from adequate vitamin D and calcium, bones require challenging, weight-bearing exercise to remain sturdy. Easy, light workouts won't do the trick.

"The exercise must place a load on the bone that's heavy enough and different enough to stimulate a bone response," says Robyn Stuhr, American Council on Exercise spokesperson and clinical exercise physiologist.

If you're not worried about bone loss because you're a male or young, keep in mind that weak bones can strike at any age and occur in both men and women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. In fact, 20 percent of those affected by osteoporosis are men.

Bones most at risk for osteoporosis include the spine, hip and wrist. Fortunately, working out with resistance (for example, your own body weight, tubing, dumbbells, medicine balls) and regular impact-based cardiovascular exercise can help. However, a bone-strengthening routine requires some specifics.

Strength Training
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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.

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Filed by Nicholas Miriello  |