With what type of exercises do you get the strongest bones?

With what type of exercises do you get the strongest bones?

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Larger muscles, more defined legs, flat abs.

In the world of exercises are countless routines and tips to improve fitness and contribute to a healthier life given the benefits of physical activity to the heart, lungs and brain.

But there is a part of our body that is often forgotten: bones.

As people get older, their bones lose density , which can lead to problems because they weaken and are more prone to fracture.

Woman running
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Image caption The bones of the hips and spine are the most often present problems at an advanced age.

From the age of 35, 0.5% of bone mass is lost per year, which accelerates in women with menopause and in men around 50.

Although it is known that calcium and vitamin D are two essential elements to have healthy bones, there are studies that show that with the exercises you can decelerate and even reverse the process of weakening of the bones over the years.

That is, exercise helps keep our bones strong by exposing them to impacts or shocks that generate stress , which is thought to send signals to the bone cells and these are activated to increase their strength.

The bone also responds directly to the surrounding muscles, to the point that if they are well developed they receive additional benefits.

But what is the best type of exercise that can be done to strengthen the bones?

The experiment

To find the answer, the program of the BBC Trust Me, I’m a doctor (“Trust me, I’m a doctor”) conducted an experiment with Dr. Karen Hind, an expert in bone health at Leed University. Beckett, in the United Kingdom.

Gymnast
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Image caption The experiment was carried out with elite athletes of gymnastics, cycling and cricket.

For this they asked the collaboration of elite female and male athletes – including Olympic medalists – of three different sports: gymnastics, cricket and cycling.

Studying them allowed us to distinguish the characteristics of the density of the bones that are reflected depending on the movements in each of these sports and the exercises that prevail in them.

That gave an indication of what kind of exercises would be the most beneficial to strengthen the bones in a greater percentage of the population and try to avoid fractures at a later stage of life.

Each of the groups was analyzed with a low radiation method called DEXA, which is used to measure the density of bones in the hips and spine of athletes, two of the areas they present where older people suffer more problems and more serious.

The results were compared with the average of other people of the same age and gender.

Conclusions

While it was expected that the gymnasts would have stronger bones than the average person, the results obtained from the cyclists and cricketers were surprising.

The first ones have a lower bone density than the average in the spine and the hip, while the cricketers, a sport that in essence is similar to baseball, had the highest density of the three groups observed.

Cyclist
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Image caption Cyclists manage to improve their overall fitness and cardiovascular capacity on the bicycle.

This suggests that it is in the type of physical activity that these athletes perform that marks the differences between each of the groups.

The gymnasts are exposed to repetitive impacts due to the jumps and landings that they perform in their executions, which is known to promote the strengthening of the bones.

Cyclists, on the other hand, rest their weight on their bicycles, so they do not put enough pressure on their bones to strengthen them , especially in the lower back of the spine.

Cycling is still a good exercise to improve fitness and cardiovascular capacity, but the study showed that it is not the best for bones.

Scene of a cricket match
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Image caption The explosive accelerations that cricket players perform in matches help to strengthen the bones.

A scenario that does occur in cricket, despite the general perception that players spend most of their time without moving.

They benefit that when they go into action they do it in an explosive way(running, jumping, bending) and that increases the density of the bones.

Muscle mass is also well developed, especially in male players, and that is positively associated with strength.

This gives us a good indication of the most recommendable types of exercises to improve the strength of the bones, which are those that involve movements in which the body receives a constant impact, such as jumping , and in which it has to be twisted, as dancing .

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