I’m in my mid-50s, so bone health is on my mind a lot. If you’re still a 20 or 30-something, maybe it’s never occurred to you. But bone health is vital for us women as we age.
Our muscles and bones both start to lose strength around age 40 unless we do things to prevent it.
The weaker our bones (the less bone mass we have…osteoporosis, if it gets bad enough) the more susceptible we are to fractures. When we hear of an elderly person breaking a hip after a fall, it’s likely the result of thinning, brittle bones.
How We Keep Our Bones Healthy
Can you guess one of the best habits for healthy bones?
But not just any exercise—weight-bearing exercise.
Hiking, running, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are all great winter activities that force your body to bear your full weight, and therefore they help strengthen your bones.
(*NOTE: Keep yourself safe on slippery winter roads, trail and sidewalks though! Wear proper boots or shoes and maybe add some traction wear like Yaktrax.)
Strength or resistance training helps strengthen the bones in our upper bodies, too. This article from Harvard Medical School says:
“A well-rounded strength training program that works out all the major muscle groups can benefit practically all of your bones. Of particular interest, it targets bones of the hips, spine, and wrists, which, along with the ribs, are the sites most likely to fracture.
“Also, by enhancing strength and stability, resistance workouts reduce the likelihood of falls, which can lead to fractures.”
Did you catch that? Strong muscles gives us better balance which means fewer falls. Strong bones mean less chance of a fracture if we do fall.
A healthy diet is also vital for keeping our bones strong. This article is easy to scan and covers the basics: 10 Natural Ways to Build Healthy Bones. (Here’s the low-down: eat all the stuff we already know is good for us!)
Mix It Up for Great Overall Health
Does this mean we should stop doing activities that aren’t weight bearing? Of course not! Keep doing what you love.
But mix your biking, kayaking, canoeing and swimming with weight-bearing activities like hiking and snowshoeing for a good balance.
Let’s head into another year as active outdoor women determined to be a great steward of this body God gave us!
(This article was first published in Active Outdoor Journal, our monthly email newsletter.)
You’ll like these too…
- Why Strength is Key to Optimal Health
- The Physical Benefits of Thankfulness May Surprise You!
- Hidden Lake Trail: Glacier National Park
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.