Bone density typically decreases with age due to hormonal changes and a tendency to participate in less physical activity. Post-menopausal women are particularly at risk of bone-density problems. Low bone density can lead to osteoporosis, which can cause broken bones. There are medications that help, but certain exercises can have a significant impact on bone density. Using an elliptical machine may help slightly, but there are other exercises that are more effective.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the two types of exercises that are effective at increasing and maintaining bone density are weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening activities. Weight-bearing exercises are ones that require you to be on your feet and carry your own weight, while muscle-strengthening refers to weightlifting. These exercises place stress on your bones. The pounding from weight-bearing exercises and the pull of muscles from lifting weights causes stress on the bone that then stimulates growth.
Riding an elliptical machine is considered a weight-bearing exercise because as you’re cycling your feet, you’re standing and holding up your own weight. The National Osteoporosis Foundation notes that using an elliptical cardio machine is an effective low-impact weight-bearing exercise for maintaining bone density. However, it also points out that higher-impact exercises that force you to step or jump provide more stress to the bones and are thus more effective for building bone. When riding the elliptical, your feet remain on the pedals so there’s no pounding which stimulates bone growth.
For bone health, get in 30-minute elliptical workouts most days of the week. The workouts can be single 30-minute sessions or multiple shorter sessions scheduled throughout the day. It’s also recommended to do two to three days of weight training to support bone growth. In addition, incorporate regular workouts consisting of balance and posture exercises to help reduce your risk of falling while you work to increase bone density.
More Effective Cardio Exercises
Higher-impact cardiovascular exercises that are effective at building bone include walking, jogging, climbing stairs, jumping rope and dancing. Each of these activities forces you to step or jump. The stress from your feet hitting the ground travels through your leg to your hips and finally your spine, stimulating bone growth throughout each of these areas. If you enjoy sports, playing tennis, basketball, volleyball or soccer are also effective for building bone.
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