While adults are encouraged to exercise to promote bone health in their later years, research has found that crucial bone development begins at age 10. Building bone density in youth helps provide lifetime benefits.
New studies have shown that the important development for bone density, which must last you throughout your lifetime, occurs between the ages of 10 and 18.
Further, researchers have found that prevention of osteoporosis needs to begin in adolescence, US News reports.
Researchers now say that, in order to reach peak bone density, it is absolutely essential to engage in strength training between the ages of 10 and 18 to protect oneself against osteoporosis in the adult and senior years.
Before now, the emphasis on regular exercise, particularly strength training for building bone density, was something that was encouraged for adults as they age. Previous research suggested that osteoporosis didn’t occur until the 60s and onward.
Because of this perspective, most young people weren’t thinking about or actively encouraged to engage in strength training that helps promote bone density.
When it comes to building bone density and maintaining bone health through exercise, there are really only two types that matter: muscle-strengthening exercises and those that involve weight-bearing (i.e., weightlifting or body weight resistance).
By carrying your own body weight and/or additional weights, more stress is placed on your bones. By causing them to work harder, they become denser and stronger.
Muscles and bones can be strengthened by lifting weights or weight/resistance machines, as well as with resistance bands and isometric exercises.
Obviously, weightlifting involves weight-bearing, but exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, planks, squats, and lunges all involve body weight as the primary resistance factor, although weights can also be held while performing some of these exercises.
Other types of weight-bearing activities include jogging, climbing stairs, using an elliptical machine, or playing sports with a lot of activity on your feet, such as basketball, tennis, or soccer.
For youths and teens, 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise at least 3-4 days a week will achieve beneficial results.
In addition to exercise, nutrition also plays a key role. One of the most essential nutrients is calcium, which can be found in food sources such as milk, cheese, yogurt, white beans, kale, and spinach. However, for the body to absorb calcium, it needs the addition of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is also essential for proper bone development. One vital source of vitamin D is sunlight. Getting 10 minutes of direct sunlight exposure three times a week provides enough vitamin D. It can also be acquired through fortified cereal and orange juice, as well as tuna and shrimp.
It should be noted that consuming too much caffeine can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb enough calcium.