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    Exercise for bone health: How much is too much?

    By Emily Hagan | Published on Oct 19, 2023

    As we age, taking care of our bones becomes increasingly important. While exercise is crucial for strengthening our bodies, it’s essential to find the right balance to avoid any negative effects. So, how much exercise is actually beneficial for our bone health? Let’s explore the insights of an expert to uncover the secrets of maintaining strong and healthy bones.

    Dr. Raman Kant Aggarwal, the Director of the Institute Of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopedics at Medanta Hospital, shares his wisdom on the relationship between exercise and bone health.

    1. The consequences of excessive exercise

    Our musculoskeletal system consists of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments, all working together to enable movement. However, excessive exercise can lead to injuries. Activities that involve repetitive motions, like certain sports, can cause stress fractures in the bones. For instance, military recruits who march long distances every day are prone to stress fractures. Additionally, people who are generally inactive but suddenly engage in strenuous physical activities are also at risk.

    Placing excessive pressure on our bones can result in their failure, leading to ligament and tendon failures. Therefore, it’s crucial to gradually strengthen our bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint cartilage through weight training and exercises.

    Being active can help your bones stay strong.

    2. The right amount of exercise for bone health

    To maintain optimal bone health and a healthy skeletal structure, it is recommended to engage in half an hour of weight-bearing and resistance exercises for at least four days a week. Weight-bearing exercises force us to work against gravity, such as walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Resistance exercises, like weightlifting, also contribute to strengthening our bones, muscles, and ligaments.

    3. Tips for maintaining healthy bones

    Besides exercise, it is essential to ensure an adequate intake of calcium, minerals, and vitamin D. These nutrients are crucial for building bone density and maintaining bone health after weight-bearing exercises.

    A combination of right exercises and food can strengthen your bones!

    4. Frequency of bone and strength activities

    For bone-strengthening exercises, it is advisable to alternate days to allow proper rest for the muscles.

    The types of strength training activities suitable for each age group may vary. Consulting with a fitness trainer can provide guidance on the appropriate exercises based on individual body mass and any specific medical conditions.

    Contrary to popular belief, sitting in the sunlight alone cannot fulfill our Vitamin D requirements. The amount of sunlight our bodies can absorb depends on the pigment called melanin, which can block the essential UV light needed for Vitamin D synthesis. Therefore, it is important to regularly check our Vitamin D levels. If the reports indicate low levels, our doctor may prescribe supplements to be taken weekly or monthly, depending on the deficiency.

    The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for individuals aged 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for those over 70 years.

    Also, read: 4 basic, but important tips to keep your elders’ bones healthy and strong

    Keep a check on your vitamin D levels.

    5. The impact of exercise and nutrition on bone health

    Maintaining proper bone health relies heavily on the intake of calcium and Vitamin D. Insufficient amounts of these nutrients can lead to reduced bone density and conditions like osteoporosis, which make our bones more susceptible to fractures.

    Daily intake of calcium is not necessary. Typically, it is prescribed for 4-6 weeks, followed by a gap of a few weeks, and then repeated to maintain the necessary levels. For normal individuals, a calcium intake of 1000 mg per day is recommended, while pregnant women and lactating mothers should aim for 1200 mg per day. Consuming 100 grams of cheese, a glass of milk, and a bowl of yogurt can provide 1000 mg of calcium to the body. Additionally, nuts, vegetables, and crab (for non-vegetarians) are also good sources of calcium. However, a balanced diet alone is not sufficient for building bone health; regular exercise and physical activities are equally important.

    Don’t underestimate the importance of milk!

    6. Bone strengthening exercises to do at home

    For those looking to exercise at home, walking is an excellent choice. Aim for 30-40 minutes of walking daily. In addition, practicing yoga, including Surya Namaskar and Pranayama for lung health, can contribute to maintaining healthy bones. For outdoor activities, consider cycling, playing tennis or badminton, and swimming.

    By finding the right balance between exercise and rest, incorporating vital nutrients into our diets, and engaging in suitable physical activities, we can ensure strong and healthy bones throughout our lives. Remember, it’s never too late to start prioritizing our bone health!

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