Im­prov­ing your bone health

Build strong, healthy bones for life with these sim­ple tricks to pro­mote and pro­tect them

Trail Running (UK) - - The Science Behind... -

1 EAT CAL­CIUM-RICH FOOD

Cal­cium is es­sen­tial for our bones be­cause it gives them strength and rigid­ity. The hu­man body con­tains about 1kg of cal­cium, with 99% of it found in our bones. Eat plenty of dairy, such as yo­ghurt and cheese, sar­dines or, if you’re ve­gan, green leafy veg­eta­bles, al­monds, dried fruit, pulses and soya pro­tein, which are all great sources of this vi­tal bone min­eral.

2 SOAK UP THE SUN

The body needs vi­ta­min D to reg­u­late the way it uses cal­cium, en­sur­ing bones re­main strong. Reg­u­lar run­ning out­side ex­poses you to the sun’s ul­tra­vi­o­let light, form­ing vi­ta­min D3 in your skin. This is then car­ried by your blood to or­gans, which con­vert it to an ac­tive and use­ful form of vi­ta­min D. Foods such as oily fish, eggs and for­ti­fied ce­re­als can boost your in­take fur­ther.

3 LIFT SOME WEIGHT

Lift­ing weights and per­form­ing reg­u­lar squats loads the skele­ton with forces far greater than our body­weight, di­rectly in­creas­ing bone min­eral den­sity and cre­at­ing new bone. Talk to a qual­i­fied gym in­struc­tor about build­ing a long-term weights plan in­di­vid­ual to you, as re­search shows that the ben­e­fits reaped from re­sis­tance train­ing are great­est when per­formed reg­u­larly for more than a year.

4 GO THE DIS­TANCE

While it’s a given that run­ning im­proves bone den­sity, a pa­per pub­lished in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Ap­plied Phys­i­ol­ogy has shown the greater the train­ing dis­tance, the bet­ter for bone stiff­ness, a vari­able di­rectly re­lated to bone qual­ity. Run­ners train­ing to com­pete in en­durance races up to the marathon saw marked im­prove­ments in the me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties of the heel bone, prov­ing that sus­tained weight­bear­ing ex­er­cise in­creases bone health.

5 PILE ON THE POTASSIUM

Potassium salts bi­car­bon­ate and cit­rate – found in fruit and veg­eta­bles – re­duce bone re­sorp­tion, the process by which bone is bro­ken down, in­creas­ing their strength as a re­sult and help­ing to pre­vent os­teo­poro­sis. Re­search in Os­teo­poro­sis In­ter­na­tional also found a high in­take of potassium salts greatly re­duces the ex­cre­tion of cal­cium and acid in urine – ex­cess acid in the body causes bones to weaken and frac­ture.

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