Bone-Building Exercises

Tack these bone-building exercises onto your routine today.

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In Your 30s: Must-Do Moves

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For fitness, the more "good" stress you put on your skeleton, the stronger it becomes. Try these moves from Ellen Barrett, a personal trainer and member of the Family Circle Health Advisory Board, with the heaviest weights you can manage.

Canoe Move: Strengthens your entire lower body

Starting position: Stand upright with feet together, holding one 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand at your left hip.


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Canoe Move Action

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Laterally jump to the left, "canoe-ing" the weights to the right hip. Repeat 20 times, alternating side to side.


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Dance-Fever Flex

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Dance-Fever Flex: Fortifies your core muscles

Starting position: Stand with most of your weight on the left leg. Hold a 5- to 8-pound weight in the left hand, arm stretched up at a 45-degree angle.


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Dance-Fever Flex Action

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Squeeze the right knee up to meet the bending left elbow. Keep your back straight. Repeat 10 times then switch sides.


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Tip-Toe Press

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Tip-Toe Press: Tones from head to toe, especially the upper body

Starting position: Stand with feet parallel and elbows bent out to the sides. Hold 5- to 8-pound weights in each hand.


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Tip-Toe Press Action

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Roll onto your toes as you reach your arms straight up. Keep abs engaged. Do two sets of 10 for a total of 20 repetitions.


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In Your 40s: Must-Do Moves

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As you enter your 40s and approach perimenopause, you will inevitably start to slowly lose bone density and strength. This process causes no visible symptoms. Making changes to your fitness routine now will shore up your body against the drop in estrogen levels at menopause that dramatically increases the risk for a break due to osteoporosis.

Lunging Shoulder Lift: Builds hamstrings, glutes and shoulders

Starting position: Stand upright with feet together and arms down by your sides holding 5-pound weights.


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Lunging Shoulder Lift Action

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Lunge with your right leg and lift both arms up to shoulder height, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Repeat with the left leg. Aim for two sets of 10 lunges, alternating legs.


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Crisscross Abs

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Crisscross Abs: Fortifies the core

Starting position: Lie on your back with arms (holding 5-pound weights) crisscrossed at the chest. Extend your legs out in front of you, lifted 45 degrees off the ground, with toes pointed and abs engaged.


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Crisscross Abs Action

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Scissor your right leg in over the left, then the left leg over the right. Alternate for a total of 20 repetitions.


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Balancing Arm Circle

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Balancing Arm Circle: Improves balance while toning the upper body

Starting position: Balance on one leg, holding 5-pound weights, arms out to the sides, palms down.

Action: Circle arms clockwise 20 times, then repeat counterclockwise. Switch legs and do another set.


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In Your 50s: Must-Do Moves

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In the 5 to 10 years right after menopause bone loss is rapid. It's estimated that postmenopausal women lose up to 3 percent of their bone mass every year. Getting plenty of exercise remains of the utmost importance. Women over 50 should work on moves that increase balance and flexibility to reduce the risk of a fall that could result in a life-threatening break.

Chair Squat: Helps with balance and works the lower body.

Starting position: Stand upright in front of chair, with arms relaxed at sides, holding 3- to 5-pound weights.


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Chair Squat Action

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Sit hips back, almost-but-not-quite into the seat, while reaching arms up and forward in front of your chest. Slowly return to the starting position. Aim for 20 total repetitions.


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Seated Crunch

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Seated Crunch: Increases flexibility and invigorates the core

Starting position: Sit upright in a chair with feet planted on the floor. Hold 3- to 5- pound weights next to your shoulders.


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Seated Crunch Action

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Press the right arm up and lower the left arm down while bending slightly to the left. Hold for one inhale and then switch sides. Alternate for a total of 20 repetitions.


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Arm Slice

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Arm Slice: Stretches and tones the upper body.

Starting position: Sit upright in a chair with feet planted on the floor. Holding 3- to 5- pound weights, bring arms up overhead, palms facing forward.


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Arm Slice Action

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Exhale and "slice" the arms down and slightly back behind you. Picture your collarbone spreading apart. Inhale and return to starting position. Repeat 20 times.


Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the May 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.