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Exercise and bone health

Written by Adrian Choy, Exercise Physiologist at Blacktown. Article from July 2019

Exercise & Bone Health

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Exercise is a very important component that goes into improving/maintaining an individual’s bone health. Exercise is recognised as one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to help make bones as strong as possible, as well by reducing the risk of fractures later in life. Additionally, having strong bones is a great way to prevent/slow bone loss after menopause and can help improve an individual’s balance/coordination to help prevent the risk of falls. The correct dose of exercise can also help to speed up rehabilitation following a fracture.

It is misunderstood what types of exercise correctly play into improving bone health. So, what is the appropriate type? Well, it depends on the individual and what stage of life they are in (i.e. children) compared to (i.e. post-menopausal women). However, to get the most out of your exercise for bone health, it must take into account several factors. Exercise sessions must be done at least three times per week. These sessions, need to use the progressive overload principle, in order to ensure that over time the bones and muscles are challenged/stressed appropriately. Rapid, short bursts of movement such as jumping or skipping are more effective than slow movements. If exercise needs to be reduced, it is better to reduce the length of each session rather than the number of sessions per week.

Exercise selection should be done according to how osteogenic the exercises are. Osteogenic, meaning relating to the formation of bone. For example:

  • Highly Osteogenic exercises include – (Jump rope, Gymnastics, Box Jumps)
  • Moderately Osteogenic exercises include- (Running, Jogging, Resistance training)
  • Low Osteogenic exercises include- (Leisure walking, Yoga) Non-Osteogenic exercises include- (Swimming, Cycling)

exercise-cancer-recoveryHowever, it should be noted that exercises that involve jumping may not always be the most enjoyable or safest to complete, therefore, resistance based training is an alternative to these options which offers excellent benefits for the bone mineral density. A good site for more specific information regarding Bone health, in relation to specific conditions is https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/Exercise%20Fact%20Sheet%202nd%20Edit ion.pdf

Overall it is imperative that in order to preserve and/or improve bone health. Exercise programs should be designed around stressing the bones through highly osteogenic exercise strategies. However, the level of fitness of the client, and the tolerability of their bone structure, as well as safety, is always a key concern.

By Liam USYD with Adrian AEP

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