Body & Mind

Unleashing Stronger Bones Through Exercise

Living the life we want to live often comes down to maintaining our bodies to keep up with our desire for adventure.

Consider the following, all-too-occurring scenario: A friend in her early 50s keeps her body lean and fit through a regular active lifestyle. Her body then returns the favour by allowing her to live the life she loves. She takes week-long hiking trips and road bike excursions. She’s one of the most vibrant and radiant people you know. Then one day, your friend, this perfect picture of health, somehow trips and falls over a piece of luggage at the airport, ending up with a broken hip.

What many people don’t realise is that overall health and bone health are in two completely different categories. In order to keep our bodies functioning comfortably, we must care for its foundation—our bones.

Both women and men can begin to lose bone density by their mid-to-late 30s. By age 50 your bones can deteriorate by as much as 10 percent. This decrease in density makes fractures more likely, especially in the hips and spine.

The most concerning part is that no one feels their bones becoming brittle. The only real symptoms are sudden fractures caused by what seem to be routine movement—a twist to catch a falling bowl that results in sharp pain or picking up the dog’s toys with sudden immobility of your hip.

One way to decrease bone loss and increase joint resiliency is through exercise. So, what kind of exercise do we need to unleash strong bones?

In Your 50s

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  • Four to six weight bearing cardio sessions per week lasting 20 to 40 minutes each
  • Choose moderate-impact activities like dancing, running, hiking or jumping rope
  • Include about a half hour of weight training twice per week
  • Find a personal trainer to help learn the right amount of weight and the correct techniques to prevent injury
  • Slow down movements to maximize training
  • Compound movements that require the coordination of several muscle groups, like squats or chest presses

In Your 60s and Beyond

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  • Choose safe and gentle options like yoga and tai chi
  • Brisk daily walks and running in the pool to provide strength training without compromising your joints

Regardless of your age, if you’re just starting a fitness program, be sure to have your doctor assess your current ability to exercise, and then begin slowly.