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6 Factors That Make a Workout Better for Your Bones, According to Harvard Health

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsJune 12, 2020

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Regular exercise has been shown to reduce falls by almost one-third in older adults. And it’s not because you’re working your muscles or breaking a sweat (although, those are certainly two bonuses), but rather you’re quite literally strength training your bones.

According to Harvard Health, all skeleton-forward workouts share one or more of the following factors. So consider it a workout bingo if you can hit three or more in one training sesh.

Is exercise good for your bones? These are the 6 features that make for the best skeletal workout

1. Exercises that train resistance

Don’t overthink resistance training: It really just means you’re resisting some form of weight. Whether that means dumbbells, soup cans, or the tug of resistance bands, consider the task done. “Resistance exercises, including classic strength training, rely on muscle contractions that tug on bones to stimulate them to bulk up,” writes Harvard Health.

Give it a shot with this resistance band Pilates workout:

2. Exercises that make you bear weight

“Weight-bearing exercise is any activity, such as running, walking, dancing, hiking, climbing stairs, or playing tennis, golf, or basketball, in which you carry your body weight and work against gravity,” says Harvard Health. This tête-à-tête with good old gravity prompts your bones to grow stronger.

A treadmill workout will fit the bill:

3. Exercises that require impact

Ever seen box jumps at the gym? Well, that’s one example of an impact exercise—and your bones love them. “When you land a jump or pound the ground with each step as you run, you mul-tiply the weight-bearing effect of gravity,” says Harvard Health. “That’s why higher-impact activities generally have a more pronounced effect on bone than lower-impact exercises.”

You’ll get some impact in here with zero equipment:

4. High velocity Exercises

“Impact can be increased even more as your speed increases. For example, jogging or fast-paced aerobics will do more to strengthen bone than a leisurely stroll or slow calisthenics,” says Harvard Health. In other words, pick up the pace every once in a while!

Sprints, right this way: 

5. Dynamic Exercises

Sports like soccer and squash ask their players to make quick, sharp turns that have been found to improve bone development. If you’re not into these two, the choreography in dancing requires a similar dexterity.

A little dancing should do the trick:

6. Exercises that work on your balance

“Exercises that target balance may not be the best for building bone, but they will help keep you from falling, so they also serve a bone-protecting function,” says Harvard Health. Your yoga cool-down will be the perfect capstone on your workout.

Get balancing:

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