Strong Bones and Exercise

Bones get stronger when physical stress is put on them. So regular exercise of the right kind will help build bone strength.

At different stages of our lives we need different goals for our exercise. In childhood and adolescence, we need to be building as much bone as possible. Adulthood should see us maintaining bone and muscle strength and as we age we need to limit bone loss and maintain balance, muscle strength and mobility.

What are the best types of exercise for bone strength?

Weight bearing, impact loading exercise
These exercises use the weight of the body against gravity to stimulate bone to get stronger over time.  Examples of weight bearing, impact loading exercises include:
Jumping and hopping, skipping rope and step-ups.

Resistance training
Exercises that use weights to enhance strength and stability.You can get your resistance from free weights, exercise bands and gym equipment. Don’t have free weights or gym equipment?  A can of beans, bottle of water (or wine!) will do the trick.  Think lunges, squats and arm movements with a weight or sidesteps with legs in a band.

Balance training
These exercises strengthen the muscles that keep you upright such as legs and core. This helps you stay stable and prevents falls – the main way people break bones. Challenge balance while standing still with feet close together, when moving such as walking on uneven ground or in small circles and dual tasking- doing something else at the same time as balancing, like catching a ball (or pair of socks!), brushing your teeth or counting backwards in 3s!

Exercises to be aware of:
If you have osteoporosis caution needs to be taken with high impact exercises and strong movements such as forceful bending and twisting as the weakened bones may break with these activities.

Some exercises are great for general fitness but don’t help bone density. Swimming is fabulous for achy joints and cardiovascular fitness but as the body is suspended in water, there is minimal force going through the bones to strengthen them.

Questions or Concerns:

If you have questions or concerns about exercising, a good physical therapist, exercise physiologist or fitness trainer with experience in your stage of life will be able to help you. And if you are concerned about your bone strength please see your GP to have it assessed.  Remember, exercise can and should be fun!