You can walk to maintain your weight. You can walk because you know it is good for your heart. Maybe you walk because you feel good. You may not realize it, but you’re also walking to strengthen your bones : Walking can reduce your risk of hip fractures by 30%, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.

With just a few adjustments to your regular walks, you can get even more protection against osteoporosis and fractures, says Karen Friel, director of the department of physical therapy at the New York Institute of Technology School of Health Professions .

“While walking is inherently good for the bones, adding more load to the bones stresses them and they respond by building more cells,” he says.

The average person walks at the same pace for the same amount of time every day. That’s helpful for the bones, but what’s even more helpful is periodically ‘shaking’ the bones while hiking.

4 easy ways to strengthen your bones while walking

The following are some safe and effective ways to strengthen your bones while walking. If you walk at least 5 times a week for about 30 minutes (the recommended goal), plan to do a different challenge each day for 4 days; the fifth day can be your usual walk.

1. Speed ​​up your pace

High-impact exercises, such as jumping rope and racquet sports, are among the best for your bones, but you don’t need to adopt a strenuous regimen to reap the benefits of bone-strengthening – in a large-scale study ,  more than 60,000 postmenopausal women, those who walked briskly at least 4 times a week had a much lower risk of hip fractures than women who walked at a slower pace.

However, energetic means energetic: After walking for about 10 minutes at your usual speed, try to do 3-5 2-minute intervals at a pace that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation.

Between intervals, walk at a slower pace for 1 to 2 minutes to catch your breath. After a couple of weeks, add a minute to the intervals; eventually, you’ll want to do 3 quick 5-minute intervals during your walks. Brisk walking is an excellent alternative for people with back pain or joint problems who rule out higher-impact exercise.

2. Walk backwards and to the sides

Another great way to create new but safe stress on your bones is to change direction when you walk. In fact, a study published in the journal Osteoporosis International found that dodging or backward walking can actually work as well as high-impact exercise to increase bone density.

It is recommended to take 30 seconds each to walk sideways, backwards, on the heels and the balls of the feet; Try repeating the pattern every 3-5 minutes.

3. Do 20 big jumps to strengthen your bones

Research shows that a specific style of jumping can be a blessing for the bones in premenopausal women: One study found that women between the ages of 25 and 50 who jumped 20 consecutive times, twice a day, increased bone density from hip significantly after only 4 months.

The capture? You have to jump and then take 30 seconds of rest before jumping again. To test this on your next walk, set a timer on your phone or watch your watch and after walking for 5 minutes, jump every 30 seconds for the next 10 minutes. For the jump, pause with your feet together, bend your knees as you swing both arms back, and then jump up.

After finishing 20 jumps, walk for another 10 minutes and then repeat.

4. Add stairs or a steep hill to your walk

A great way to increase beneficial stress on your bones is to quickly go up and down stairs or a steep hill. If you have a lot of hills nearby, you’re in luck: only do 2 or 3 ascents and descents as part of your usual route. If not, find a nearby high school stadium or a large building with outdoor steps. Spending a couple of minutes ascending and descending will do wonders for bone density.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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