Weight bearing exercise builds bones
Exercise is essential for everybody. When we exercise, our muscles pull on our bones, which in turn build bone. Hence exercise builds stronger, denser bones.
As a rule of thumb, 30 minutes of bone building exercise 4-6 times a week can help maintain better bone density. Exactly how much you need is dependent on the type of activity you do, how long you do it for and your age. That's where our Healthy Bones Calculator helps you out.
The types of exercise you need to do and for how long varies throughout your life...
Bones respond better to particular types of exercise, including:
weight-bearing exercises.eg brisk walking, hiking, stair climbing, tennis, netball, jogging and aerobic dance
resistance training.eg exercises can be machine-based ( e.g. leg press, seated rowing) or done using free weights i.e. dumbbells or ankle weights
high impact exercise. e.g. skipping, jogging, jumping, netball and basketball
balance training. e.g. standing on one leg with eyes closed, sitting on an exercise ball, tai-chi and yoga
Bones also like:
- short, high intensity bursts of exercise rather than long, slower, low impact sessions of exercise. You may notice this if you enter 2 separate, 30 minute sessions into the calculator, you’ll get a greater score than if you did the same activity for an hour
- when the exercise gets progressively harder
- variety in exercise routines
- higher impact exercise - the higher the impact, the greater the benefit to your bones
- lifting heavier weights rather than lifting light weights (though you can build this up over time)
Sorry but cycling and swimming won't give you a good bone score.
Cycling and swimming are great forms of cardiovascular exercise - they will burn calories and get your heart rate up. However they won’t do anything for your bones, as there are no weight-bearing forces involved.