How to Build (and Keep) Strong Bones

Posted Sep 18, 2015 | Posted in Diseases & Treatments, Fitness & Nutrition, Health & Wellness

HealthQuest_Weight TrainingIf you think of your body as a building, your bones are the framing. Without strong bones the whole thing would collapse.

And that’s a good analogy for what happens when we don’t take good care of our bones. Over time, the body loses more and more bone, until we develop osteoporosis and it “collapses,” in the form of bones fracturing.

About half of all women over 50, and about one out of every four men, will break a bone because of osteoporosis, a condition of weakening bone that affects about 10 million Americans, with some 34 million more at risk.

During childhood and adolescence, your body makes bone tissue faster than you lose it. By the time you’re 18 to 20 years old, you’ve built up about 90% of all the bone you’ll ever have. Most people continue to build bone faster than they lose it until about age 30, a point that’s known as “peak bone mass.” From then on, the rate of bone building slows down and the rate of bone loss picks up.

You can’t get back bone once it’s lost, but you can help maximize bone formation and minimize bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. Researchers estimate that things you have no control over — such as genetic factors, sex, age, and race — control about 50% to 90% of your bone mass. But you can help protect your bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in two key ways: nutrition and exercise.

If you want to build stronger bones, you need three key elements: calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Bones are largely made up of a protein – collagen – bound together by calcium and other trace minerals. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium so it can do its job in building strong bones.

Doctors say evidence shows that weight-bearing exercise can build about 1% to 3% of bone. That may not sound like a lot, but exercise may also strengthen existing bone in ways that are harder to quantify. Swimming, which is great in many ways, doesn’t always give your bones the resistance it needs to stay strong.

HealthQuest has many weight-bearing exercise machines for every part of your body such as the leg press, chest press, leg extension, and lateral pull. Research from the landmark Nurses’ Health Study (NHANES) shows that women who walk at least four hours per week reduce their risk of hip fracture by about 40%.

HealthQuest offers certified personal trainers and registered dietitians who have helped hundreds of people just like you increase bone strength through personal training, exercise programs, and nutrition. Sign up today and take advantage of the wonderful results.

This blog post was contributed by Adam Stancil, personal trainer at HealthQuest Wellness and Fitness Center. HealthQuest, located in the Johnston Medical Mall, is a hospital-affiliated fitness and wellness center with medically based programs that will improve your health and your lifestyle. Find out more at or call 919-938-7581.

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