Regular movement and exercise plays an important role in supporting the health of our bones and joints. Research supports the use of exercise as a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, fracture and bone mineral loss. Research also suggests that bone density is higher in those who are physically active compared to those who are not.
Weight bearing exercises are shown to be the most effective way to improve the strength and bone density. So how exactly does exercise help create stronger bones? To answer this question, we need to learn how bones continue to grow and repair over time.
Bone repair is a normal and lifelong process where older bone tissue is removed and new bone tissue is formed in its place. This helps to maintain healthy bone tissue that is strong and mineral dense. Weight bearing exercises are an important part of bone and joint repair. If we remain inactive for too long the repair process is reduced, in turn increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fracture.
When we think of what sort of exercise to start with, we need to consider how effective they will be on loading our bones to improve the bone repair process. For example, a leg press exercise will create a more positive effect on bone health compared to going for a swim. That is because a leg press places more load through our bones, compared to swimming where the buoyancy reduces the impact through our bones and joints.
When considering long term bone health, remember that movement is medicine, and weight bearing exercises are key. Physically active people tend to have a lower rate of age-related bone loss compared to those who move less. It is important to exercise in a safe and controlled environment and consider engaging the help of a health professional to guide you through your exercise prescription.