Strong, healthy bones are essential for warding off injuries and avoiding serious illnesses like osteoporosis, a condition that affects hundreds of millions of people all over the world.

Growing up, you probably heard that you need to drink milk to build strong bones. Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for bone health. But, exercise matters, too. Listed below are four of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your bones.

1. Deadlifts

Compound resistance exercises like deadlifts are ideal for strengthening the bones. This is because they work multiple muscle groups at once. In fact, the deadlift works almost every major muscle in the body, including:

  • Glutes

  • Quads

  • Hamstrings

  • Calves

  • Lower back

  • Neck

  • Rhomboids

  • Abdominals

  • Obliques

Because so many muscles are working, there is also a significant amount of pressure being put on the bones throughout the body. This pressure helps strengthen your bones and improve their density, which is essential for avoiding osteoporosis.

To do a deadlift properly, hold a barbell or dumbbells while standing up straight with your feet about as wide as your shoulders. Keep your spine tall, bend your knees slightly, send the hips back behind you, and lower the barbell or dumbbells to the middle of the shins. Keep the weight close to your legs and avoid rounding your back.

When you’ve lowered the weight as much as you can, press into your heels and stand up, keeping the back flat and core engaged.

2. Squats

Squats are another essential compound exercise. Like deadlifts, they work a variety of muscles throughout the body, including the following:

  • Quadriceps

  • Hamstrings

  • Glutes

  • Calves

  • Lower back

  • Abdominals

If you’re new to resistance training, start by just doing bodyweight squats. Then, use a barbell or dumbbells to add an extra challenge.

To do a proper squat, stand up straight and separate your feet so they’re hip-distance from each other. Place your hands behind your head or extend them in front of you. Then, bend your knees and send your hips back and toward the ground, like you’re going to sit in a chair.

Squat as low as you can without rounding your back. Then, press into the ground to stand back up, squeezing your glutes to prevent your knees from caving in.

3. Incline Push-ups

Don’t neglect your upper body, either. Push-ups are great for strengthening the chest, shoulders, arms, and wrists, as well as the core muscles.

If you can’t do strict push-ups on your toes, start with your knees on the ground.

You can also do incline push-ups. This involves placing your hands on a step or bench. Keep your shoulders in line with your wrists and avoid letting your hips sag down toward the ground -- this puts unnecessary strain on your lower back.

If you want to make your push-ups more challenging, place your feet on the step or bench instead to do decline push-ups.

4. Medicine Ball Slams

The loss of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are used to fast and heavy exertion exercises weight lifting and sprinting, is a major contributor to a decrease in overall muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia. Researchers have identified a connection between the development of sarcopenia and a decrease in bone density.

To maintain your fast-twitch fibers and, by default, your bone strength, try to introduce variety to your workouts and include exercises like medicine ball slams a couple times a week.

Medicine ball slams are a safe and effective exercise that help increase your power.

To do them correctly, stand with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders and your knees bent slightly. Raise the ball above your head and slam it down to the floor with as much force as possible. Then, pick the ball back up, reset your form, and do it again.

Don’t rush through the reps when doing this exercise -- take the time to set up properly and focus on exerting as much force as you can.

Strong bones are essential for staying safe and maintaining a high-quality of life as you age. No matter your age, it’s never too early (or too late) to focus on bone health. Add these exercises to your routine today.