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Exercising to Build Strong Bones

Use the LIVE Approach

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert

You know your heart, lungs, and muscles all need regular exercise to stay healthy and fit. But did you know that’s just as true for your bones, too? Whether you’re already facing bone-density problems like osteoporosis or osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis), or trying to make sure you don’t have these problems later on, regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your bones.

But not just any old workout boasts bone benefits. The best exercise for building bone density and strength follows the LIVE approach:

L is for Load-bearing. Weight-bearing exercise that requires your muscles to work against gravity by moving your own weight (or added weight) up and down has the most bone-building benefits.

I is for Intensity. The more weight you move, and the more vigorously you move it, the more that exercise will strengthen your bones.

V is for Variety. Exercises that involve as many different muscles in many different functional movement patterns are best.

E is for Enjoyable. Let’s face it. If you don’t like your exercises, you’re not likely to do them as much as you need to for best results.

While that may sound simple, right now you’re probably asking yourself, "But how do I put these principles into action? How much load, intensity and variety do I really need? What kinds of exercises should I do or not do?" Or for some of you who already have osteoporosis, "How do I know when I’m pushing myself hard enough to do some good without causing further damage?”

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