Cardio + Resistance = Your Best Bet For Bone Health

Your bones benefit from two types of exercise: cardio designed for your heart, and resistance training to build lean muscle.

Some of us have been huddled on the couch through this winter’s subzero days. But as temperatures are inching up under the spring sunshine, it’s a great time to revitalize our exercise routine for the warmer seasons ahead.

Our best exercise bet to maintain strong healthy bones is a cross-training program that combines cardiovascular exercise with resistance training. We define each type of exercise and suggest a healthy weekly balance of both types of exercise that will keep bones in fine shape.

Cardiovascular exercise

These exercises get their name from their ability to reduce risk of heart and vascular disease. The impact of weight-bearing cardio also helps maintain bone density. Whenever you run, walk, swim, or bike for at least 10 minutes to raise your heart rate, you are engaging in exercise that is good for your heart and for your bones.

Resistance training

These exercises focus on building lean muscle mass, reducing body fat along the way. Muscle mass contributes to joint stability and strength, and improves our balance and coordination. Better muscle condition and a healthy weight also lower the risk of hypertension and certain cancers linked to excess weight—while doing our heart good. Lifting weights, using resistance bands, and working out with the weight machines at the gym are all ways to incorporate resistance training into your routine.

Best Weekly Balance of Cardio and Resistance Exercise

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association agree: 150 minutes of cardiovascular per week is recommended. Thirty minutes of cardio five days a week is ideal, but you can also get your cardio in with sessions of no less than 10 minutes, and preferably no more than 60 minutes at a stretch. Especially if you are starting a new exercise routine, it’s better to start gradually, and slowly build up to your maximum weekly goals.

In addition, plan two to three sessions of resistance training into your week—or, if you are starting a new exercise routine, plan to build up to this goal gradually. During each session, work your chest, back and leg muscles first, then your shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Start with 4 to 10 reps to build your muscles, and slowly work up to 15 to 20 reps as you build your strength and endurance. Every 2 to 3 months, swap out your exercises for new ones, to build muscle resilience and reduce risk of injury.

With planning, patience, and commitment to your routine, you’ll be looking and feeling great by the time summer arrives.

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