Exercise and Bone Health
Bone is living tissue that is constantly undergoing a process called remodeling. In remodeling, cells called osteoclasts are breaking down old bone, as cells called osteoblasts are replacing it with new tissue. Many factors can affect the remodeling process and leave you with bones that are less dense and more fragile.
Some factors that affect bone remodeling are:
Why Exercise Is Good for Bones
Regular weight-bearing and resistance exercise helps build muscle, as well as maintain and increase bone strength. Exercise causes the muscle to contract against the bone. This action stresses or stimulates the bone, and the bone becomes stronger and denser. The three main types of exercise are:
Aerobic (Cardiovascular) Exercise
In aerobic exercise, you continually move large muscles in the legs, shoulders, and buttocks. This action causes you to breathe more deeply, and your heart to work harder pumping blood, thereby strengthening your heart and lungs. Examples include:
In weight-bearing exercises, your bones and muscles work against gravity, and your feet and legs bear the weight. Your bones adapt to the weight and pull of the muscle during weight-bearing exercise. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include:
Resistance Exercise (Strength Training)
Resistance exercises use muscle strength to improve muscle mass and strengthen bone. Examples include:
Tips for Beginning:
Aerobic or Weight-bearing Exercise
Before starting any type of exercise program, check with your doctor about any possible medical problems you may have that would limit your exercise program.
National Osteoporosis Foundation
The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Healthy Living Unit
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx#toc. Published October 2008. Accessed June 11, 2012.
Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 25, 2012. Accessed June 11, 2012.
Ryan A. The Physician and Sportsmedicine. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 1980.
Last reviewed May 2012 by Brian Randall, MD