Exercise for stronger bones

Home Exercise for stronger bones
Written by Doug Hampton

For the head, muscles and bones! Regular physical activity helps strengthen our skeleton. And this, whatever our age. What mechanisms are present and what disciplines should be favored? Response elements.

Our bone capital is built during our growth, with a so-called peak of “bone mass” reached around 15-16 years in girls. And 17-18 years old, among boys. This bone mass then tends to stabilize for up to 30-35 years, before declining.

More constraints

Determined according to our genetic heritage and multiple hormonal, nutritional and environmental factors, this bone capital is also built up through physical activity. Indeed, during an exercise, the bones are subjected to constraints. In practice“the muscles that contract to move our body ‘pull’ on their bone attachments”, explains the Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), in a practical booklet devoted to osteoporosis. And to illustrate: “The bones that are solicited are reinforced ‘on demand’. Thus running strengthens the legs and the spine, that is to say the ‘bearing’ bones. In tennis players, the efforts to hold the racket strengthen the bones of the forearm on the same side and these become denser than on the opposite side As long as one exercises, the activity of the bone cells maintains the solidity of the bone but, with a sedentary lifestyle, the bone is impoverished”.

As a result, adults who practice physical activity on a regular basis will benefit from greater bone density than sedentary people. It will also be a bulwark when bone loss accelerates with age and a more pressing risk of osteoporosis.

What activities ?

Should we opt for “load-bearing” sports, that is to say activities that require us to carry our body, such as walking or running? What matters is first of all to choose disciplines that you like. On a technical level, the AP-HP recommends “activities that require the skeleton to withstand greater stress than usual without being excessive. Walking is less effective than running or activities that require jumping. Conversely, activities such as strength training can strengthen a localized part of the skeleton on the condition of performing significant muscle contractions”. Finally, in the elderly, if disciplines such as gentle gymnastics or yoga are not the most suitable for preventing osteoporosis, they have the advantage of strengthening and reducing the risk of falls. So fracture.

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