The Important Link Between Exercise and Healthy Bones

Weight bearing exercise reduces osteoporosis risk

Exercise is known to increase bone density and improve bone health. However, not all exercise is equal when it comes to building strong, healthy bones or preventing osteoporosis; some forms may decrease bone density, even in elite athletes.

What Types of Exercise Promote Bone Density?

Researchers from the Bone & Joint Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation Center at the University of Michigan reviewed research as far back as 1961 to determine what impact exercise has on bone density and bone health.

They found three characteristics of exercise have the largest impact on increased bone density. They are:

  • The magnitude of strain the exercise imparts — Exercises that fit into this category include weightlifting and gymnastics because the amount of force or impact exerted on the muscles is significant.
  • The rate of muscle strain the exercise is done — Consider high-impact, weight-bearing exercises that are done in repetition, such as jumping or plyometrics.
  • The frequency that the exercise strains the muscle — Here’s where running and jumping rope fit the bill, because of the repetitious impact to the bones that occurs frequently during an exercise session.

The magnitude, rate, and frequency of strain during exercise all play a role in developing greater bone density, but the researchers didn’t determine which is the most important of the three. They did say that increases in bone density can be had in as little as 12 to 20 minutes of weight-bearing exercise, three days week

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