High -impact and weight-bearing exercise are the building blocks of bone strength.

Fitness Tips to Build Strong Bones

Your skeleton does more than hold you upright; it also produces blood cells and stores important minerals — all while constantly regenerating itself. But as we age, our bones can weaken, putting us at risk for osteoporosis, fractures and falls. According to the latest research, the right exercise regimen combined with good nutrition are key to preventive bone maintenance.

1. Make Impact Exercise Your Friend

Run, jump, dance, play tennis – all of these are examples of high-impact sports that stimulate bone growth. Climbing stairs and hiking count too, if you keep up a fast pace.

2. Get Moving and Keep Moving

Vigorous but lower-impact exercise like elliptical training, cycling, and low-impact aerobics also send a “use it or lose it” message to bones.

3. Utilize Resistance

Weight training doesn’t just build muscle. Using stretch bands, free weights, calisthenics, and weight machines is an important part of an anti-osteoporosis strategy.

4. Know Your Nutrients

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, both calcium and vitamin D are essential for preventing bone weakening. The guidelines for these nutrients change with age; 1000 mg of calcium is recommended for women under 50 and men under 70, but after that you need 1200 mg. For vitamin D, you need 400-800 until age 50, when the RDA rises to 800-1000 ius. By eating and drinking the right foods, you should be able to get these nutrients from your diet.

5. Eat the Right Foods.

Milk and other dairy foods are considered primary sources of calcium and vitamin D, but there are plenty of other sources of these nutrients as well. For calcium, rely on dark leafy greens like bok choy and kale, beans, tofu, salmon, and small bone-in fish such as sardines.

6. Take Supplements.

If you have dietary restrictions that prevent you from getting enough bone-building nutrients from food, then you’ll want to take supplements, especially in winter when our bodies don’t get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D.

7. Avoid Calcium Leeches.

Did you know that caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks, and salt can prevent your bones from absorbing and storing calcium and other minerals? Animal protein is also a calcium leech, so eat meat in moderation.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.