Exercising for Healthy Bones
Established in 1994, National Healthy Bones Week aims to educate Australians about the importance of developing and maintaining strong bones. It also encourages you to take active steps towards a healthier bone mass through the consumption of a calcium-rich diet including dairy foods and regular exercise.
After our mid 30’s our bones start to lose calcium faster than they absorb it. But with exercise and adequate calcium you can slow bone loss and help maintain the bone you have built.
A person with a lower than average bone mass may progress to developing osteoporosis with age if steps are not taken to reduce further bone loss.
The loss of muscle strength and balance with ageing also speeds up bone loss through disuse, and increases the risk of falling. More than 90% of hip fractures in people with osteoporosis occur as a direct result of a fall.
How can exercise help?
Exercise causes bones to modify their shape and size so they are stronger and better protected from injury. In addition:
- in children and in inactive adults with low bone mass, regular exercise increases bone mass;
- in healthy active adults, vigorous exercise helps to prevent typical age-related bone loss; and
- exercise also increases muscle strength and improves balance, which reduce the risk of falling.
Although popular exercises such as cycling, swimming and walking at normal pace have many health benefits, they may not effectively stimulate bone.
Therefore a combination of resistance and high-impact exercises are important.
Women and men without osteoporosis
Recommendation: 4-5 times per week for 30 minutes per day, preferably in two 15-minute sessions. Use a variety of moderate to high-intensity exercises such as:
- jumping, hopping or skipping (all directions)
- high-impact aerobics
- volleyball, basketball and netball
- tennis and squash
- high-weight, low-repetition resistance exercises.
Women and men with osteoporosis
Recommendation: 4-5 times per week for 40-50 minutes per day.
Falls prevention involves using a variety of low-intensity exercises such as:
- tai chi
- stair climbing
- line dancing
- upright cycling
- low-impact aerobics or water aerobics
- low-weight, high-repetition resistance exercises
Exercise is Medicine Australia