Think about the reasons why we lift weights: lifting things up and putting them down builds muscle and increases strength. You know that strength training causes muscle tissue to grow. But were you aware that bones, which we often think of as hard, permanent fixtures, can actually be manipulated in a very similar way?
Our bones are made up of collagen, mineral complexes, and living cells and they continue to grow as we do. According to the National Osteoporosis foundation, we typically reach peak bone mass between the ages of 18 and 25. However, as we continue to age it’s possible to lose bone mass. This is especially common for post-menopausal women due to decreased levels of estrogen.
Fortunately, it’s likely that exercise can help increase bone density. One recent study proved specific exercises effective at building bone mass, suggesting that high impact activities like running, gymnastics, basketball, or plyometric exercises are best for improving and protecting bone health.
The American College of Sports Medicine also suggests that resistance training can help increase bone mineral density, however another recent study suggests that high impact exercises are much more effective for building stronger, healthier bones.
Protect and strengthen your bones by incorporating the following five high-impact exercises into your exercise routine. Bonus points: these exercises all boast high intensity levels that will increase your heart rate quickly, which means you’ll burn extra calories and improve your cardiovascular fitness while you’re at it, too.
Perform each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat the entire circuit three times.
1. Frog Leaps
Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart and your feet turned slightly outward. Sit back into your heels and squat down until your hands reach the floor and you’re in “frog position.” Keep your core tight and push through your feet to launch yourself up and forward, essentially hopping like a frog. Repeat this sequence continuing to move forward for 30 to 60 seconds.
Start standing tall with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Reach your arms up into the air as your jump up. Upon landing, bend down at the waste (you can bend your knees) and place your hands on the floor. Immediately thrust your feet back behind you so that you land in high plank position. (Beginners can step one foot back at a time.) Keep your core tight as you quickly jump your feet back in towards your hands. Stand back up and continue to repeat the entire sequence for 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Ice Skaters
Start standing tall with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Slightly lift your left foot off of the ground by shifting your weight into your right leg. Push through the bottom of your right foot and launch yourself up and over to the left, landing on your left foot and crossing your right leg behind your left by bending your right knee. Mimic the same motion as you jump back over onto your right foot and develop a rhythm as you repeat the movement back and forth between your right and left legs for 30 to 60 seconds.
4. Lunge Jumps
Start standing tall with your feet hip-width distance apart and your core engaged. Leading with your right leg, jump into lunge position. (Make sure both knees form 90-degree angles upon landing, your forward knee landing directly above the ankle.) Immediately after landing jump back up and alternate your legs so that next time you land your feet have switched positions. Continue this movement quickly for 30 to 60 seconds.
5. Zig Zag
Stand in a spot so that there are about 2 or 3 yards of space ahead of you. Imagine a thin line on the floor. Stand with your feet together and jump from side to side as you also move forward, “zig-zagging” back and forth over the line. When you reach the end, repeat the same movement, but this time in reverse and continue moving up and down the “line” for 30 to 60 seconds.