Use them or lose them. Bones grow – or shrink – to meet their daily needs. You must be on your feet standing and walking every day if you want to be able to stand and walk. You must climb stairs most days if you want to be able to some days.
People forced to stay in bed, due to disease or injury, for days or weeks, have lost muscle and bone. Space Station Astronauts still have lower bone mass ten years after returning to earth.
Bones respond to constant weight-bearing and to impact. Therefore, walking on a firm surface strengthens your legs and spine more than bicycling, stair-stepper, or treadmill. Jogging and running apply more impact.
But remember, that a sudden increase in impact – intensity or duration – can produce stress fractures. Gradually increase the speed or duration of any exercise over weeks and months. Stretch before and after exercises for the sake of muscles, joints and bones.
Daily exercise is important, but alternating days of heavy and light exercise is even more important.
Take Control Naturally of your Bone Health. Light exercise daily. Longer or faster exercise 2 or 3 times weekly.
Jay Ginther, MD