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High Impact a Boon for Older Bones
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Exercise Ideas for Older Adults

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High Impact a Boon for Older Bones

A study published in the journal Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach analyzed the bone density of 560 athletes, ages 47 to 93, who competed in the Senior Olympic Games. They found that men and women who played high-impact sports had much higher bone density than those who participated in low-impact games. High-impact activities include those that require almost continual running and jumping-such as track and field, road racing, and basketball.

A Big Impact on Bone Density

The difference in bone density measurements between adults playing high- and low-impact sports was significant. Playing a high-impact sport improved bone density scores by 3 percent. That's about the same percentage of decline caused by some individual risk factors, such as age.

Not everyone can participate in high-impact activities. It may be better for people with osteoarthritis and other chronic health problems to stick with low-impact activities. Thankfully, any weight-bearing exercise-including lower-intensity activities like walking-can help ward off bone loss. However, the study shows that for older adults who are able, exercising at a higher intensity may provide additional bone benefits.

Even Small Amounts of Activity Help

You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of high-impact activity. Add a little jogging to your daily walk or join a high-impact aerobics class. Just be sure to talk with your doctor before starting or changing an exercise program.

For help getting active, visit the National Institute on Aging website at www.nia.nih.gov and search for "exercise guide."