Van Halen had it right. You might as well Jump! One of the most prevalent weaknesses in our culture, particularly among women, is osteoporosis and osteopaenia, weak bones. Now, it’s not a news flash that calcium is key for healthy bones. Getting enough calcium from childhood through adulthood helps build bones up and then helps slow the loss of bone as we age. It’s not clear, though, that we need as much calcium as is generally recommended, and it’s also not clear that dairy products are really the best source of calcium for most people. Below are a few points (straight from Harvard) to consider when you reach for your next glass of milk in order to strengthen your bones.
While calcium and dairy can lower the risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer, high intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer.
Plus, dairy products can be high in saturated fat as well as retinol (vitamin A), which at high levels can paradoxically weaken bones.
Good, non-dairy sources of calcium include collards, bok choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans, and supplements.
What we do know for sure is that bones get stronger when you load them and weaker when you don’t. The rate that you apply the stress is more important than the absolute stress. For example, jumping exercises such as skipping rope build stronger bones than walking. Studies from Oregon University found that non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming and cycling can actually make you lose bone faster than doing no exercise at all.
While walking and running will build more bone density than cycling or other non-weight bearing exercises none will build bone as well as weight training and jumping exercises. Read below on how to perform a simple Jump Squat. It will work your quadriceps while building your bones! Now how is that for efficiency?
- JUMP SQUAT–> Start in a deep squat position with your folded out in front of your body. From this position, explosively jump up as high as you can and reach for the ceiling with your hands as you jump. Repeat this until failure.
Exercise prescription: Lift weights and do jumping exercises two to three days per week for optimal bone health.
Christine is a yoga instructor, personal trainer and nutritionist who specializes in weight loss and womens health at Four Forty Fitness for Women in Burlington, Ontario. Check out the website at www.fourfortyfitness.ca