As we age, we lose bone and muscle strength. But you don’t have to accept that! You can fight back and strengthen your bones with simple exercises you can do at home.
Before we look at those, consider that the best exercises for your bones are weight-bearing ones, such as lifting kettlebells in a gym. But this level of activity does not suit everyone in later years and really is not necessary.
You can use your own body weight as resistance, so if you are fit and able, activities like walking or jogging, tennis, dancing and Zumba are all good ways to strengthen your bones.
Everyone can care for themselves by eating a diet rich in protein (eg. cheese, eggs, beans, nuts, chicken) and calcium (milk, yogurt, broccoli, spinach, asparagus etc).
Sunlight - for vitamin D - is also something you should seek. Find out here how and why we took this into account when building our retirement villas.
Bone strengthening exercises to do at home
So here are five exercises that you can do at home, which you should try once or twice a week if possible. If you’re aged anywhere 50-plus you should be doing these to improve your bone strength.
Ease into these exercises, just do as much as you can, then gradually increase the effort by doing them for longer, if you feel able.
It’s important to state that you should seek advice from your GP if you are unsure if you can do these exercises due to an existing medical condition.
You must always do this. Try for 5 minutes, varying between reaching up and down, and to both sides, taking long strides and gently jogging on the spot.
1. Climb stairs
Of course you need to find stairs. You will probably have some at home, if not save this exercise for somewhere outside or a relative’s house, maybe.
Walk up and down the stairs for 3 minutes, not heavy on your feet, and after a while pick up the pace a little.
If you need to, take 10-15 second rests during the three minutes.
Try to count how many steps you are doing, then you can see if you can increase this number as time goes on.
2. Stand, Sit and Stand again
For this one you will need a good chair, preferably with a high back. Standing in front of the chair, sit down and stand up, and repeat this for 30 seconds.
Then you can rest for 30 seconds! But try to repeat the routine twice more.
You’ll find it more beneficial if you don’t sit all the way down, but instead start to stand again when you feel the chair seat behind you.
3. Floor Stretch
Position yourself on a comfortable floor, on your hands and knees. Try to lift your right arm and left leg out and away from the body, but no higher than your hip level.
If you aren’t able to do this, try sliding your leg away so your foot is still touching the floor, and raise your arm below shoulder height.
You then need to alternate with the other side, and do this for 3 minutes, taking rests if you need to.
4. High Knees
Just walk on the spot for this one - but lift up your knees higher than you normally would when walking. Do this exercise for 30 seconds, and increasing the pace if you can.
Take a rest for 30 seconds then repeat twice.
5. Jumping Jacks
This one is more active, but many of you will be able to manage this. If you’re not sure what a jumping jack looks like, you start in a standing position, feet slightly apart, then jump both legs out.
At the same time, you reach up with your hands. Some people form a star position, others prefer to join their hands and clap above their head. Then return to your starting position.
You could always do left leg then right leg if you find the movement too difficult.
Do the jumping jacks for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. Then, if you can, repeat twice.
Just as important as the warm-up. All you have to do is walk around for a few minutes, then do a few stretches, nothing too strenuous.
Advice from GP Anita Herdeiro
Scalesceugh Hall & Villas co-founder, Dr Anita Herdeiro, is also a respected GP. She has this advice about looking after your bones:
"Your bones are living tissues that get stronger when you use them. Being physically active and doing exercise helps to keep bones strong and healthy throughout life.
"For exercise to be most effective at keeping bones strong, you need to combine weight-bearing exercise with impact muscle strengthening exercise.
"The most important thing is doing the exercises as frequently as you can, and integrating them into your daily life so it becomes easier to keep the schedule and do it for the rest of your life.
"Making things a habit is the best way. Prevention is always better than cure.
"Do not give up after a fall or a broken bone, as there are still many things you can do to strengthen your bones."