Just twelve minutes of yoga poses can put you on your way to better bone health, according to a new study

By Macaela Mackenzie
December 29, 2015
Corbis Images

We know yoga is a savior for your stress levels, your muscle definition, and even your sex life. But it also has major bone benefits, according to a new study published in the journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation.

Researchers from several universities came together to discover whether yoga could be an effective therapy to treat or prevent osteoporosis-the bone weakening condition that causes fractures in one out of every three women over 50. The study followed 202 women who did a sequence of yoga poses at least every other day if not daily from 2005 to 2015. (Yoga is more popular than ever, so these women probably weren't tough to find!)

The scientists found that not only did the practice improve the participants' balance, enhance their coordination, and improve their gait, it also increased their bone density-specifically in the spine and femur. And even beyond better bone density, the participants had better internal support for their bones (meaning stronger, more flexible muscles and tendons), which is also a big part of lowering your risk for fractures down the road. (P.S. Yoga can rev your metabolism too!)

Weight-bearing activities have long been a recommendation for fighting bone loss, but according to the study authors, yoga puts more pressure on your bones than gravity does-which is how you ultimately strengthen your skeleton. The key is in the opposition of muscle groups certain yoga poses create. When you create this push-pull between your muscles, it causes your bod to produce more osteocytes-bone-making cells-thus upping your bone density as you age. Now that's something to say 'om' about.

But not all yoga poses are created equal. For the study, the research team designed a 12-minute circuit of 12 poses specifically to boost participants' bone density. To get your own bone health benefits, go through the following flow, holding each pose for 30 seconds: tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist, and corpse pose. Nailed it? Try these 10 exercises to prime your arms for tough balance poses.


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