runners' legs

Weight bearing activity is key

This article discusses options to optimize bone health in later years.  Weight bearing exercise is the ticket, but specific recommendations for squats (work up to 2 sets of 10)  are outlined in the article.  Also advised are walking (4 hours a week though 8 hours even better), walking uphill or up stairs, standing on the pedals of your bike while climbing hills, and water walking.

Building Up Bones, With a Little Bashing

By JANE E. BRODY

To maintain strength, bones also need the stress of gravity, which is lacking in cycling and swimming and not as powerful when walking as it is when running. Being suspended in water is like floating in space for a short time: once they leave Earth, astronauts lose bone.

But before I was too discouraged (and before you abandon exercises like mine and retreat to your recliner), I did some more research. Regular walks can indeed offer some protection against hip fractures among women (and presumably, men) of a certain age, I found. In the famous Nurses’ Health Study, which has followed tens of thousands of postmenopausal women for decades, those who walked for at least four hours a week were 40 percent less likely to suffer hip fractures than those who walked less…

Still, she emphasized the need to “bash our bones” to make and keep them strong. This can be done, she said, through “dynamic impact” — by hopping or jumping rope 100 times a day, for example — or through “positive stress” by walking rapidly uphill or upstairs, or even standing on the pedals while cycling uphill…

Rather, she recommends home-based exercises that more closely mimic how the body functions in the real world. “The house or office can be as effective as a gym,” Dr. Wright said.

“We never prescribe machines anymore,” she said. “Pushing leg presses is so unnatural. It’s not how the body uses squats. We train the body functionally, using the body’s own weight and free weights for resistance instead of machines.”