19 Mar Regular Exercise and Bone Mineral Density
Regular Exercise and Bone Strength
Not only can exercise improve your bone health, it can also increase muscle strength,
coordination, and balance, and lead to better overall health. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that
responds to exercise by becoming stronger.
During childhood, adolescence and early adulthood (up to mid-20’s) your skeleton is growing the
most, but once you reach the age of 30, you don't build bone as readily as you used to. Your bone
strength will then start to slip at an average rate of 1% per year after the age of 40.
This is why young people are generally encouraged to do vigorous-intensity activities at least 3
times a week to strengthen muscles and bones. For adults aged 35 and over, a high impact activity
3 times a week or a well-rounded strength training program that focuses on working out all the
major muscle groups can be beneficial in improving your Bone Mass Density (BMD).
Weight-bearing and resistance exercises are the best for your bones.
// High Impact
Higher-impact, weight-bearing exercises force you to work against gravity. Greater density can be
achieved with as little as 12 to 20 minutes of weight-bearing exercise performed three times a
week. Activities such as walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing, will
have a more pronounced effect on bone strength than lower impact aerobics, but only the bones
that bear the load of the exercise will benefit; for example walking or running protects only the
bones in your lower body, including your hips. Increased velocity can also act as a factor in
improving bone density.
Alternatively, a well-rounded strength training program can work out all the major muscle groups
and benefit practically all of your bones. This type of training program can still help to stimulate or
maintain BMD in the weight-bearing bones as the force of muscle pulling against bone is enough to
stimulate bone growth, even if the actual stress placed on the bone is moderate.
Weight training puts stress on the bones and stimulates extra deposits of calcium to kick the bone-
forming cells into action resulting in stronger, denser bones. It is recommended that adults get
1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day,
ideally from food sources.
By enhancing your strength and stability, resistance workouts can also help to reduce the likelihood
of falls, which can lead to fractures.
// High-Risk Individuals
If you are at a high risk of having a fracture or have some broken bones already, this shouldn’t stop
you from keeping active. Regular exercise will help to reduce your risk of falls and fractures,
improve balance, strength and stamina, and reduce pain.
Although you may be fearful of falling, don’t stop moving. If you are not regularly active you’ll slowly
lose your strength and balance, making you more prone to falls and fracture. However, avoid high-
impact exercises that involve jumping and running, and activities that involve bending forwards and
twisting at the waist (touching your toes, sit-ups, golf, tennis, bowling, and some yoga pose).
There are three key characteristics of exercise which have the largest impact on BMD:
The magnitude of muscle strain an exercise exerts. Weightlifting and gymnastics because the
amount of force placed on muscles and bones.
The rate of muscle strain an exercise exerts: This indicates the speed by which repetitive, high-
impact exercises are performed.
The frequency by which muscle strains occurs: Eg. running. The impact on muscles is not only
repetitive but continues for a long period of time.
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