Water takes the weight off the body making us "lighter". Ever seen an astronaut come back from time in space, floating weightless? They are brittle and at high risk of fractures. We've never shown floating in the water as a stimulus to bone density improvement.
Nature (our body) reacts to the demands we put on it. Accordingly, weightlifting repeatedly shows itself as the prime stimulus for mineral retention/ structural rigidity in the bony structures. Cardio and long walks fall way behind and removing weight from the body as in swimming have the opposite effect.
My mother is 82 and for balance benefits from the use of a walker. She still goes to the gym and does a circuit of machines to load the bony structures. Our next step is the addition of a light weighted vest (10-20 lbs) while she does the walks. This addition of load creates an impetus for increased bone density.
Now too much of a good thing is never the answer, so caution, especially with seniors, must be exercised that too heavy a vest could impede circulation or innervation or even threaten already somewhat fragile structures.
It was shown that three strength training sessions a week keep bones strong without medication.
J Aging Health. 2009 Jun;21(3):519-27.
In fact, it was shown that lifting in the 3-5 rep range, (so true heavy training relative to the individual's abilities) increased bone mass in osteoporosis sufferers significantly.
J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Jan 2.
But, all the above are about creating a stimulus for the body to retain mineral levels. Clearly the next step is to provide those nutrients needed to keep the bones healthy and strong.
Arguably, the most important supplements for you, are the ones your diet is not providing. So I could show a study for every nutrient imaginable to bone health as being the solution. Inevitably, calcium is most important to those with a calcium-deficient diet, Magnesium (which is deficient to most) for those with a poor magnesium intake, Vitamin D rears its' head often as an answer, not only due to a shift from dairy in many but the excessive use of sunscreen. Get the point?
The take-home message being a diet high in a variety of all food groups with digestive support (I use ATP's ENZYMATIK with each meal ) will ensure we turn our every meal into a virtual multi-vitamin.
For those with a darker skin pigment or enjoying little sunny weather (Vancouver, northern Scandinavia . .you get the idea), extra Vitamin D goes a long way. Eat your leafy greens to get the requisite vitamin K.
"In addition to calcium and vitamin D, there are other nutritional factors that help keep bones strong. It seems that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, fish and fruit, can also help maintain bone mass. Italian researchers at the Federico II University Medical School of Napoli wrote about this in the Journal of Translational Medicine..."
J Transl Med. 2017 Apr 24;15(1):81.
Yogurt is a better weapon against osteoporosis than milk- at least according to some studies.
Osteoporos Int. 2017 May 1. doi: 10.1007/s00198-017-4049-5.
But I'm going to go on a limb and propose it's related much to your ancestral eating. Some derive much from yogurt, other milk and many from a variety of cheeses. But variety in intake (and training for that matter) will always deliver a preferable array of odds.
So all this said if bone density is becoming a concern:
- avoid taking the weight off the body
- use resistance training at least three times/week
- vary your diet much
- add digestive support to ensure your meals yield all they should
- supplement those nutrients you feel your diet is lacking
- Always looking out for your health.
Who loves ya?