Healthy Bones: Exercise Can Improve Bone Strength

Did you know that we have 206 bones in our body? Bones help protect our brains, heart and other organs from injury.  Every day, our body breaks down old bone and puts new bone in its place.  As we get older, our bones break down more bone than they can put back.  It is normal to lose some bone mass as we age, however if we do not take the appropriate steps to keep our bones healthy, we can lose too much.

Good news!  Exercise can increase bone density.  Bone is a living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger.  Two types of exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density are weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.

Weight bearing exercises include:

Activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright.  They work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss.  Weight bearing exercise forces your muscles to pull harder on your bones than they normally do.  This makes your bones seek more calcium from your body which causes bone density to increase.

Weight Bearing High-impact Exercises Weight Bearing Low-impact Exercises
Dancing Elliptical Training Machine
Hiking Stair-step Machine
Jogging/Running Fast walking on treadmill or outside
Stair Climbing Low-impact Aerobics

Muscle strengthening exercises include:

Activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity.  Resistance training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in health including increasing bone density, improving joint function, increasing metabolism and reducing injuries.

Resistance Training Exercises
Lifting weights
Elastic exercise bands
Weight Machines
Lifting your own body weight
Functional movements

Interesting Bone Facts

  • The ear has the smallest bone in the body, the “stirrup bone” and it’s the size of half a grain of rice.
  • It takes 12 weeks on average for a broken bone to heal
  • There are 12 bones in the face
  • Bone composition includes 50% water and 50% solid matter

Therapy Can Help to Keep Your Bones Healthy

Always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise routine.  If you would like more information about improving bone health with exercise, contact your therapy department.  Physical & occupational therapists work with individuals to improve bone strength, reduce falls & injuries, and improve balance and flexibility.

References: National Osteoporosis Foundation