5 Bone-Strengthening Exercises to Start Your Day 

Published: January 24, 2022
Updated: June 1, 2022

I’m sure you’ve known someone who looked in better shape at 60 than most people do at 40, but could their “Benjamin Button” age-evading secret lie in a small daily exercise routine?

It turns out that many of the physical effects we once thought were caused by aging — like fragile bones — are partially the result of inactivity.

Indeed, a recent study1 found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra, good years to your life — and just 11 minutes a day can be enough to make a difference.  

And you don’t even have to do those 11 minutes all at once. You can knock out one or two exercises in smaller chunks of time and still reap the benefits. Such bite-sized workouts — also known as “exercise snacks” — can be done anytime and anywhere to boost energy and strengthen your bones.

Skip straight to the bone-strengthening exercises

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Research2 shows that mini workouts spread throughout the day are a practical and time-efficient approach to improve cardiometabolic health. 

And good news — you get results right in your home without hitting the gym. If done regularly, these simple exercises will ensure flexibility, mobility, and agility.

Ready to ease into your day with a five-minute yoga mini workout? These moves will increase your mobility, help lubricate your joints for an active day, and help strengthen your bones. An efficient way to spend five minutes and, bonus, you won’t even have to leave your bed to do it.

5 Bone-Strengthening Exercises to Start Your Day

Seated Side Stretch

Bone Health Benefits: 

  1. Maintaining mobility in the spine preserves the health of vertebral bones and allows you to be prepared for movements in your daily life. 
  2. Gentle side bending will improve spinal flexibility without placing too much pressure on the lumbar spine. To side bend safely, don’t use force to push yourself to your full range of motion — only go so far as to feel a gentle stretch with an elongated spine.
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  • Sit at the edge of a bed with your feet firmly planted on the floor. 
  • Sit up tall, elongating your spine up through the back of your neck, chin slightly tucked.
  • Place your right hand next to your hip with a slight bend in the elbow then raise your left arm up and gently begin to bend at your waist to the right of your body. 
  • Think about reaching up and over while maintaining the heaviness through the left sit bone to stretch the left side of the body, rather than collapsing into the right side of your waist. 
  • Take a breath, return to an upright position and repeat on the other side.
  • Continue bending right and left for about 10 repetitions.

While you’re still seated, now’s the perfect time to do a few seated arm lifts.

Seated Arm Lift With Wrist Rotations

Bone Health Benefits: 

  1. Keeping the arms lifted strengthens the shoulders as you resist the weight of gravity against your arms. 
  2. The rotations strengthen the wrist joints, bring blood flow to the area, and improve range of motion.  
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  • Sit upright at the edge of the bed with your feet firmly planted on the floor. 
  • Raise your arms straight out to the sides, so that your wrists are at shoulder height.
  • Make fists with your hands and hold your arms steady as you circle your wrists in one direction 15 times. Repeat, switching directions. 
  • You can also open and close the fist in this position as well 15 times.

Now that you’ve got those arms pumping, you don’t want to leave out your legs — they could get jealous you know. So throw in some calf raises. They’re so easy you can do them while brushing your teeth in the bathroom.

“If you think about it, everyone brushes their teeth 2 times a day for 2 minutes each time. As you start to move during this 4-minute built-in time frame, this can increase your daily physical activity by 28 minutes every week!”

Dr. Emma

Calf Raises (aka Heel Drops)

Bone Health Benefits: 

  1. This simple movement is great for improving balance and building lower body strength. 
  2. The pounding of the heels as you drop will increase the impact on the bones through the legs, increasing the weight-bearing feature of this exercise (which helps strengthen bones).
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  • Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Place a hand on a wall or counter for support if needed.
  • Rise up on your toes and then drop quickly back onto your heels, without bending at the waist or knees.
  • Repeat as many times as you can (while brushing teeth).
  • To make this harder, try doing it on one leg.

By now you should be feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But if not, let’s get you in the kitchen and get some coffee going. And while it’s brewing, let’s take a moment to do some doorway stretches.

Doorway Stretch

Bone Health Benefits: 

This easy stretch opens the chest and shoulders, which improves posture.

Step-by-Step Instructions:
  • Place your right hand, wrist, and elbow on a door frame, with your elbow at shoulder height (creating a 90-degree angle).
  • Gently tighten your abdominals and step forward with your right leg.
  • Start to bend the right knee, allowing the torso, neck and head to lead forward (creating a diagonal line from your left heel to the crown of your head).
  • To intensify the stretch, turn your head to the left and draw your left shoulder back. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Another bone-strengthening exercise that will open your shoulders is the modified downward facing dog. It’s quick and relaxing. Plus, all you need is your kitchen counter to do it.

Modified Downward Facing Dog (w/ counter)

Bone Health Benefits: 
The bone health benefits of this exercise include stretching the hamstrings, opening the shoulders, and creating length in the spine.

Step-by-Step Instructions:
  • Place your hands on the kitchen counter with palms shoulder-distance apart.
  • Take a big step back with both feet.
  • Maintaining a neutral spine (not rounding forward), hinge forward from your hips until your head is between your arms and your torso is parallel to the floor and your hips are pushing back toward to the wall behind you
  • Your hips should be stacked above your ankles (you may need to adjust your stance slightly back or forward to find this position).
  • Keep the back of your neck lifted by tucking the chin.
  • Ground through your feet and lift through the thighs.
  • Reach your hips away from your hands to feel a lengthening in the sides of your torso.
  • Firm your outer arms in and lengthen through the crown of your head.
  • Hold for 5 slow breaths.

The Bottom Line

If you tend to be stiff when you wake up in the morning (and, let’s be honest, who isn’t?), why not start your day with five minutes of a yoga mobility mini workout? It’ll make that walk to the coffee maker or tea kettle feel better and will kick off your day the bone-strengthening way.For two more mini workouts to spread throughout your day, make sure to check out our Lower Body Micro Workout (this one’s great to break up your afternoon) and our Evening Micro Workout to Wind Down Before Bed.

References

1. Ekelund U, Tarp J, Fagerland MW, et. al. “Joint associations of accelerometer-measured physical activity and sedentary time with all-cause mortality: a harmonised meta-analysis in more than 44 000 middle-aged and older individuals.” British Journal of Sports Medicine (2020). 54:1499-1506. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1499 

2. Islam, Hashim, Martin J. Gibala, Jonathan P. Little. “Exercise Snacks: A Novel Strategy to Improve Cardiometabolic Health.” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews (January 2022). Volume 50 – Issue 1 – p 31-37 doi: 10.1249/JES.0000000000000275   3. Montgomery G. et. al. “The mechanical loading and muscle activation of four common exercises used in osteoporosis prevention for early postmenopausal women.” Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. (February 2019). Volume 44., Pages 124-131). doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2018.12.004

Article Comments

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  1. Marcia Boyce Ake

    May 28, 2022 , 2:26 am

    Great Exercises

  2. Catherine

    May 28, 2022 , 7:59 am

    Good Morning Dr. Emma and Cat:
    Are the Five Bone Strengthening Exercises, safe for one with Osteoporosis? I have sustained several compression fractures. Unfortunately, I do NOT have reliable medical care regarding my OP, and therefore need to ensure I would not cause further injury. It is critically important that I find the most comprehensive program and direction, if I have any hope of restoring my Bone Health. Thank you so much.
    Kind Regards,
    Catherine Addario

  3. Chelsea Dugas

    June 14, 2022 , 11:39 am

    Hi, Catherine!
    The content on our blog serves only as inspiration and should not be interpreted as medical recommendations. Particularly when it comes to physical movements and exercise, every individual has different capabilities, flexibility, and strength – one approach that works for someone may not be the best fit for another. We’d suggest connecting with a specialist or physical therapist to create a customized exercise regimen in combination with the content on our blog to get you started on the path to success! Hope this information helps! 🙂

    – Chelsea @ AlgaeCal

  4. Patricia H

    May 28, 2022 , 8:59 am

    Thank you so much for providing these bite sized workouts for us. I love that you have called them exercise snacks! I have struggled for a long time with exercise because of rheumatoid arthritis but need to help my bones become stronger. These exercises are perfect and I am so grateful for them. I have been taking Algaecal for many years and am convinced it has helped me. You are a very caring company with wonderful staff always willing to help and support. Thank you again!

  5. Mahin Amini

    May 29, 2022 , 11:10 am

    Thank you so much for sending me these easy exercises, specially for the days that you are so busy and won’t be able to do your routine exercises for bone problems.

  6. WillY

    June 3, 2022 , 4:39 am

    good info

  7. Linda in FL

    June 5, 2022 , 4:35 am

    It is good to have some exercises to do that will improve my mobility and strength. Thank you

  8. JoMarie Battle

    June 8, 2022 , 12:05 pm

    It’s so good to see that exercise ranks so high on the list to help build bone density!

  9. Francesca Meloni-Malek

    June 8, 2022 , 5:28 pm

    moral of the story – keep moving with stretching & weight bearing to keep the bones strong!

  10. Cathy Holden

    June 8, 2022 , 8:30 pm

    Thank you.

  11. Susan Roth

    June 9, 2022 , 6:30 am

    I am doing these each morning and enjoy the structure they give me, along with getting my body up and ready for the day ahead.

  12. Brenda Akridge

    June 9, 2022 , 5:01 pm

    Are some Yoga moves not good for osteoporosis?

  13. Kirby Johnson

    June 15, 2022 , 11:59 am

    Brenda,

    Thank you so much for your question 🙂 Generally speaking, as long as you can safely perform a yoga pose, it’s unlikely to have a negative impact on your bone health, even if you’ve already experienced bone loss. For those who are less experienced with yoga, it might be worth avoiding poses that require spinal flexion (rounded-back poses & twists), sit-ups, and crunches. These put an unnecessary amount of stress on your lower back and tremendous strain on your vertebrae.

    However, for those individuals who have practiced yoga for many years, it’s possible to perform such movements safely. When it comes to twists, power it through your core (not your limbs), and keep a neutral spine (flat back). For forward bends, hinge from the hips (not the waist) and come forward only so far as you can while maintaining a neutral spine.

    Even with these technique tips, we understand everyone is unique and always encourage them to consult with a specialist before starting any kind of exercise regimen. For a more detailed explanation on yoga and bone health, you might enjoy our ultimate yoga guide for osteoporosis on our blog HERE. Hope this helps answer your question!

    – Kirby @ AlgaeCal

  14. Emma Hoard

    June 10, 2022 , 5:34 am

    Interesting exercises to start the day.
    I knew stretching is a good thing but never thought of it as being good for bone strength!

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, PhD - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,