Adding This Simple Hack To Your Walks May Actually Promote Bone Building

Walking is a powerful way to maintain healthy bone density, which was shown in a 1994 study in The American Journal of Medicine. Researchers compared women who walked more than 7.5 miles a week to those who walked less than one mile. They found that the former group showed higher mean bone density throughout various parts of the body, and it was particularly concentrated in the legs.

Ashtead Hospital explains that since the bulk of your weight is supported by the lower body during this activity, your bones are forced to work harder to keep you upright against the force of the weight. In turn, this improves their strength. It also prevents bone loss, which typically begins taking place after 35 years of age when the body becomes less efficient at replacing old bone mass. As you age, you also become more susceptible to developing osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become fragile. This makes them more likely to fracture or break.

While walking regularly is recommended to improve bone density (via Ashtead Hospital), there is a way you can hack your body's ability to build new bone. Well+Good spoke with Dr. Loren Fishman, medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, who advises people to focus on slowing down their stride. He recommends putting continuous pressure on each leg, ideally for at least 12 seconds. This extended pressure is what tells your skeleton to boost your bone density.

Other ways to promote bone building during your workouts

If the idea of taking long, drawn-out steps during your walks isn't too appealing, there are other ways you can encourage your body to strengthen its bone mass. 

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases explains that any weight-bearing or resistance exercise will do wonders for your bone density. In the former category are exercises including running, dancing, stair climbing, and dancing, all of which use the force of gravity to put pressure on your skeleton, in turn strengthening your bones. In the latter category, we have weight-lifting, which The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute says has a high strain magnitude, amplifying the pressure placed on your bones. For the best results, you'll want to combine weight lifting with other high-impact cardio exercises.

Gaiam outlines a few extra tips for getting the most out of your workouts in order to build bone. For starters, you should favor activities that keep you on your feet — walking, running, or dancing — to take advantage of your own body weight and the force of gravity. Balance exercises, such as Tai Chi or yoga, also improve your bone strength. You should also pay attention to the range of movement you engage in during your workouts. Incorporating lateral (side-to-side) movements puts pressure on your skeleton in a different way, encouraging more well-rounded bone growth.