Health Agenda

Physical Health

Exercise for healthy bones

Bone health is a key factor in ageing well and exercise can help you build stronger, denser bones.

Fit&Well blog
July 2015

Strong bones are vital for many of the body’s most essential functions including basic movement, protecting our organs, blood cell production, maintaining mineral levels, and supporting the body’s structure. Lower bone density can increase your risk of breaks.

How exercise can help

Regular exercise helps build stronger, denser bones, as the action of the muscles pulling on the bone stimulates bone building, Healthy Bones Australia advises.

As a guide, 30 minutes of bone-building exercise four to six times a week helps maintain bone density but your bones respond better to some types of exercise than others.

For example, cycling and swimming can be great for improving cardiovascular health, but aren’t so effective at protecting your bones.

Bone-building exercises include:

  • weight-bearing exercises including walking, hiking, climbing gradients and jogging
  • resistance training using equipment such as rowing machines or leg presses or free weights such as dumbbells
  • high impact exercise like skipping, jogging, jumping, netball and basketball
  • balance training like tai chi, yoga, and exercise ball exercises.

Form matters

The way you perform your exercise also impacts bone strength. Aim for:

  • short, high intensity bursts of exercise
  • high impact exercise
  • making your exercise progressively harder
  • variation in your exercise routine
  • lifting progressively heavier weights if you’re weight training.

Positive lifestyle changes

Aside from formal exercise, day-to-day bone builders include taking the stairs instead of the lift and making time for a brisk 30-minute walk each day.

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