I include cardio boxing in most of my personal training sessions with my London clients.
Among the many health and fitness benefits of boxing is the ‘bone-building’ effect, which is an increase in bone mineral density as a result of the impact. This is one of the best ways to guard against osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) when you get older, so cardio boxing enables you to take action now to make you less vulnerable to fractures in the future.
How does it work? The impact of boxing on your bones causes a micro-breakdown of bone, just as working out with weights causes micro-tears in your muscles, which then grow bigger and stronger during rest and recovery. Your bones gradually grow stronger thanks to bone cells called osteoblasts, which repair and strengthen the traumatized bone, so it’s stronger and denser than before.
Osteoblasts are progressively stimulated when your bones come under load-bearing and impact stress, and made from osteoprogenitor cells, which are located in the periosteum (the dense connective tissue that lines the surface of your bones) and the bone marrow.
Just like you need rest and recovery for muscle growth, your bones need recuperation time for the bone-building to take effect. This means plenty of sleep (see my page on how to sleep better), relaxation, and take a rest from boxing for 24 – 48 hours.
You also need good nutrition to build strong and healthy bones. The key mineral for strong bones is calcium. Cheese and milk are great sources of calcium, but if you eat more green leafy veg, and tinned sardines with the bones, you get just as good calcium intake without the saturated fat that most cheese contains.
You also need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Sunlight absorbed into the skin enables your body to produce vitamin D, and foods like egg yolks and liver are among the best sources.
But beware, there are things that inhibit your ability to absorb calcium that you need to avoid: excess salt, smoking, caffeine (found in coffee, tea, colas, those gruesome energy drinks which so many people drink without knowing the damage it’s doing to them, and diet pills).
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with over 11 years experience.