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Weight-Bearing Exercise: 8 Workouts for Strong Bones

Here are the latest weight-bearing workout trends.
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WebMD Feature

The Latest Weight-Bearing Workout Trends

What are the best ways to exercise and improve your bone health when you have osteoporosis? Try weight-bearing workouts that stress bones and muscles more than your everyday life, says Paul Mystkowski, MD, an endocrinologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and clinical faculty member of the University of Washington in Seattle. Talk to your doctor and make sure the workout you choose is safe for you. Then give these latest trends a try!

1. Tai Chi

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Tai chi -- a form of slow, graceful moves -- builds both coordination and strong bones. A study reported in Physician and Sportsmedicine found that tai chi could slow bone loss in postmenopausal women. The women, who did 45 minutes of tai chi a day, five days a week for a year, enjoyed a rate of bone loss up to three-and-a-half times slower than the non-tai-chi group. Their bone health gains showed up on bone mineral density tests.

2. Yoga

A study reported in Yoga Journal found an increase in bone mineral density in the spine for women who did yoga regularly. From the slow, precise Iyengar style to the athletic, vigorous ashtanga, yoga can build bone health in your hips, spine, and wrists -- the bones most vulnerable to fracture.

Standing poses like Warrior I and II work the large bones of the hips and legs, while poses like Downward Dog work the wrists, arms, and shoulders. Both the Cobra and Locust poses, which work the back muscles, may preserve the health of the spine. Yoga also sharpens your balance, coordination, concentration, and body awareness -- and thus helps prevent falls.

3. Brisk Walking

One fitness trend that never goes away, walking is still hugely popular among women -- and a great way to revamp your bone health. A study of nurses found that walking four hours a week gave them a 41% lower risk of hip fractures, compared to walking less than an hour a week. Brisk walking is best, but you can adapt your speed to your current fitness level. Walking is free, and you can do it anywhere, anytime, even when you're traveling.

4. Golf

Maybe you've always thought golf was for old folks -- people who could no longer do "real" sports. Think again. Shouldering that golf bag around 18 holes, and swinging the big clubs to drive the ball long, adds up to a lot of upper-body work. And all that walking, and chasing balls lost in the rough, means plenty of work for your hips and spine. Golf gives "weight-bearing exercise" a whole new name.

5. Dancing

OK, maybe you've got two left feet, or you were never the star in ballet. But we're not talking point shoes here; we're talking the hottest trends in salsa, samba, Lindy hop, rhumba, East coast swing, foxtrot, and tango. Use those hips to get your heart pumping in more ways than one, and build strong bones while you're at it.

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Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

How do you exercise for strong bones?