Walking is regarded by many health specialists as a great form of exercise. It’s not complicated to understand why. This is a workout that is low-impact, is easy to do, does not require special skills or equipment and brings a multitude of health benefits. These range from reducing the risk of heart disease to losing weight and strengthening your muscles and bones. If you didn’t know it, walking is indeed one of the efficient bone-strengthening exercises you can do.
The Effects of Walking on Bones
During a weight-bearing aerobic activity like walking you force your muscles and bones to work harder against gravity. The weight your feet and legs have to bear and the pull of the muscle will automatically make your bones increase the number of bone cells. This will lead to an improvement not only in bone strength, but also in bone density. But the benefits don’t end here. A weight-bearing exercise can prevent osteoporosis, can better your balance and coordination and hence reduce the risk of falls and possible fractures.
The Scientific Proof
Walking is strongly related to bone health. The direct relationship between the two has been been proven by numerous studies across the years.
According to research, the connection is created from one of the earliest stages of human life. Scientists from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Bristol examined health and wellness data from over 2300 participants in a lifelong study called Children of the 90s. They discovered that toddlers who engaged in walking, jumping or running earlier developed and maintained stronger bones as they grew older in comparison to those who were less physically active.
Walking is one of the effective ways to improve bone health, and this is backed up by a different study. According to scientists from Tufts University, older women who walk at least 1 mile on a daily basis enjoy a higher bone density than those who walk less. At the same time, researchers found that walking can slow down the rate of bone loss from the legs.
A different study concluded that activities like stair climbing and brisk walking can improve the bone mineral density at the hip and entire body in postmenopausal women.
Higher Intensity, Stronger Bones
As we’ve previously seen, engaging in a physical activity like walking can help us in our quest to maintain healthy bones. But in order to develop new bone cells we need to make our bodies work even harder. We need to put more stress on our muscles and bones. Therefore it’s recommended that, on certain occasions, we intensify our walking workouts. What can you do? Well, here are a few examples:
- Increase your walking speed. One of the best methods to add some intensity to your walking sessions is to simply pick up the pace. Going for a brisk walk or a jog from time to time will stimulate your bones even more and strengthen them. Just make sure you increase your speed progressively and take shorter, quicker strides. Longer strides can be more demanding on your feet and lower legs.
- Add an incline. Adding an incline is another great way to boost your walking workouts and make your bones even stronger. You can walk uphill, climb stairs, it’s up to you. No matter what you choose, you’ll have to work considerably harder than usual to overcome the force of gravity. The effort will be beneficial for several muscles groups and of course your bones.
- Try Nordic Walking. If you want to do something different and spend time in nature, this is definitely worth considering. As a weight-bearing exercise, Nordic walking is great for your bones and can help you reduce the risk of osteoporosis. This is also a great exercise to tone your muscles and improve your posture and stability.
Keep Track of your Walks
We need to exercise for bone health. There’s no question about it. The more we walk, the more physically active we are, the stronger and healthier our bones will be. One of the ways to walk more is to start tracking your activity. By tracking your physical activity you get to see see how much you’re actually walking, you see the progress made over time and you find that much-needed motivation to keep on going.
In order to track your progress you don’t have to purchase an additional fitness tracker or band. All you need is your smartphone, which you basically have on you everywhere you go. It’s enough to download a free pedometer app like our very own ActivityTracker and you’re all set. This way you’ll be able to easily visualize all the important fitness metrics, from the steps taken and distance covered to the calories burned and active time. You’ll also get to set your own fitness goal and watch your progress towards that goal.