Small Changes, Big Rewards
It's easier than you think to strengthen your bones! Find out how.
- Build some muscle
Dancing, brisk walking and other weight-bearing exercises help thicken bones by stimulating bone-building cells called osteoblasts. But, that’s not the only type of exercise that boosts bone density: Strength-training exercises—such as free weights, resistance bands and Pilates—work, too. In a recent study of women taking calcium supplements, those who were enrolled in a weight-training program increased the density of their bones by 1.4% after one year, while those who did no strength training experienced a 2.5% decline in bone mass, reports the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal.
Why it works: Bigger muscles exert more force on bones so they develop and grow to accommodate it, explains Felicia Cosman, MD, clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University. Aim to do strength-training exercises two to three times per week, gradually increasing in weights or repetitions.
- Put the kibosh on cola
Next time you’re craving a sweet beverage, try juice, flavored seltzer or an “uncola” rather than cola. A recent Tufts University study of more than 2,500 adults around 60 years old reveals that women who drink an average of seven cola-based sodas (including diet versions) per week have almost 4% lower bone density in the hip—even after controlling for calcium and vitamin D intake—than those who drink other beverages, including noncola soft drinks, such as Sprite or 7-Up.
Why it works: The link isn’t clear, but it’s possible that phosphoric acid in colas creates a nutritional imbalance in the body that triggers calcium loss from bone, according to Katherine Tucker, PhD, lead study author and senior scientist and director of the Dietary Assessment and Epidemiology Research Program at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
Important: Talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new diet, fitness or supplement regimen.