How do I Strengthen Bones?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

There are a number of techniques which can be used to strengthen bones and promote even, healthy bone development. Creating strong bones will reduce the risk of osteoporosis in the future, and it can also reduce the risk of arthritis and related joint conditions. It's never too early to start strengthening bones, and ideally people should support their bones throughout their lives, because bone tissue is continually being destroyed and remade.

A diagram of the anatomy of a bone.
A diagram of the anatomy of a bone.

Much of the support for strong bones comes from the diet. Bones need lots of calcium to grow strong, so eating foods rich in calcium can help strengthen bones. Eating calcium-rich foods increases calcium absorption when compared to taking supplements alone, but calcium supplements can also strengthen bones, as long as they are taken with food and broken up over the course of the day. Vitamins A and C are also important to bone development.

Once a broken bone has healed, gentle physical therapy may help rebuild muscles and bones.
Once a broken bone has healed, gentle physical therapy may help rebuild muscles and bones.

There's an even easier way to strengthen bones: spend some time in the sun. Vitamin D, which is synthesized through sunlight, is critical to bone development. While sunning themselves, people should take care to use protection so that their skin is not damaged by ultraviolet radiation; large hats, sunscreen, and loose fitting clothing can help with this.

Load-bearing exercise helps strengthen bones and joints and ward off breaks and fractures.
Load-bearing exercise helps strengthen bones and joints and ward off breaks and fractures.

Finally, load-bearing exercise is another excellent way to strengthen bones and joints. Swimming, walking, biking, and weight lifting can all contribute to stronger bones, because the body responds to physical stress by building up the bones to cope with it. Athletes tend to have very strong, dense bones because of their regular exercise, and even light load-bearing exercises can make bones stronger.

Gentle exercises can help strengthen bones.
Gentle exercises can help strengthen bones.

Exercise routines should be varied, to allow various muscle groups to work at different times, promoting even muscle and bone development. Exercise can also be beneficial to the heart, as long as exercisers get their heart rates up. For people with limited physical abilities, even gentle exercise like yoga can be very beneficial, and it will also contribute to flexibility, reducing the risk of injuries to the bones, joints, and muscles.

If a bone has been damaged by a break, gentle physical therapy can help the patient rebuild the muscles and bones in the area once the broken bone has healed and the cast has been removed. After gentle exercises lay the groundwork, more vigorous load-bearing exercise will strengthen the bone and rebuild it so that it is comparable to other bones in the body. People should be careful about overstressing newly healed bones, as they are vulnerable to rebreakage, which is not desirable.

Spending time in the sun allows people to get daily doses of Vitamin D.
Spending time in the sun allows people to get daily doses of Vitamin D.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

jabuka

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables daily is one way to keep our bones strong.

The reason for that is that when our bodies process fruits and vegetable a byproduct of the metabolism is a substance that hinders the loss of calcium from bones.

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