Why Bone-Strengthening Activities are Especially Important for Children and Teens
Generally, bone health is not what most parents consider when they think about their child's health. But the foundation of strong bones, just like most other aspects of a human body, is laid during the childhood and teenage years.
As a child grows, his/her bone mass continues to increase as well and only stops when it reaches the Peak Bone Mass (PBM) which is generally around the age of 25. Studies suggest that girls acquire up to 90% of their PBM around the age of 18. For boys, it happens around the age of 20. This makes childhood as well as the teenage years very important for building strong bones.
Importance of Bone-Strengthening Activities
Physical activities can be very helpful for building strong bones. This is because bones are actually living tissues. Physical activities that are weight-bearing in nature helps the formation of new bone tissues to make the bones stronger.
Apart from the bones, physical activities also make the muscles stronger. During bone-strengthening physical activities, even the muscles tug and push against the bones and this movement also aids in muscle development. Starting these activities from an early age not only helps the children get healthier bones for life but also protects them from problems such as osteoporosis, a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone-mass.
What are Bone-Strengthening Activities?
Physical activities that are done with more focus on bone strengthening are designed in a way to increase the strength of specific bone sites to help develop a stronger overall skeletal system. These activities produce tension force or impact on the bones for promoting bone strength and growth.
A common example of bone-strengthening activities is weight-bearing activities. Your weight is on your feet during such activities and this helps in promoting the growth of new bone tissues and strengthens the existing bones.
Some of the best bone-strengthening activities for kids include the following:
- Running, walking, or jogging
- Playing field hockey or tennis
- Jumping rope
- Climbing stairs
Even activities such as bicycling and swimming can help. While these are not weight-bearing activities, they do help with building stronger muscles. Stronger muscles can then help build stronger bones. Apart from bone and muscles, they are also very helpful in improving the overall health of kids.
Tips for Children and Teens to Develop Stronger Bones
To keep up with bone and muscle development, a child or teen should do at least 1 hour of physical activities in a day. This 1-hour should be a combination of moderate and vigorous physical activities and can include playground activities, bicycling, tennis, and running.
At least 2-3 days in a week, the physical activity should be intense and mostly focused on developing bone strength. Activities such as skipping, hopping, running, gymnastics, and tennis are some of the best options. It is also very important for kids and teens to reduce the time they spend in front of the television or playing computer games.
Importance of Right Nutrition
Apart from the bone-strengthening activities, parents also need to focus on making sure that their child receives the right nutrition. The bones require foods from many different food groups in order to stay healthy and strong. vitamin D and calcium are known to be the most important for bone health.
While calcium itself plays a crucial role in bone development, vitamin D helps the human body to absorb calcium. Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, nuts, etc. are some of the best sources of calcium. vitamin D is only found in a few foods such as eggs and oily fish.
A simpler option for parents to make sure that their child receives regular dose vitamin D and calcium is fortified milk. This milk is different from standard whole milk as it has added micronutrients to make it more healthy. Prefer a reputed fortified milk brand to help your child receive the daily recommended amount of vitamin D and calcium.
Combining Bone-Strengthening Activities with Right Nutrition
While bone-strengthening activities are very important for kids and teens, it is also very important to make sure that the child receives the right amount of nutrition.
It is only by combining physical activity with the right nutrition that you can help your child develop stronger and healthier bones. Encourage your child to be more physically active and start making small but healthier changes to their diet in order to keep up with their bone development.