Regular exercise has many health and fitness benefits for the heart, lungs and muscles, but what about our bones? Bone health is extremely important as our skeleton acts as our body’s framework for movement, as well as providing protection for our vital organs.
Diseases such as osteoporosis due to low bone mineral density (BMD) are on the rise in Australia due to our aging population and lack of regular exercise and physical activity.
How Does Exercise Improve Bone Health?
Bone tissue is stressed when it is placed under mechanical load following weight baring exercise. As a result of this stress, the bone cells secrete proteins, mainly collagen, at the site of the stress which then mineralizes to lay down new bone, increasing BMD giving it rigidity and strength.
What Type of Exercise is Best for Bone Health?
Weight baring exercise such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs, resistance training and high impact exercise such as jumping, are all highly beneficial at improving or at least preventing age related reduction in BMD.
Exercise intensity and load must be progressively increased overtime to continue to cause mechanical stress on bone tissue to allow for continual laying down of new bone tissue.
What else can I do to keep my Bones healthy?
As well as regular weight baring exercise, diet is also a vital element to maximising bone health. Adequate calcium intake is critical to ensure maintenance and improvement in bone health.
Vitamin D intake is also crucial to the absorption of calcium, so this must be taken at adequate levels also.
Is this only important for Older People?
Bone mineral density generally peaks in adulthood at the age of about 30 and declines after that. Therefore to prevent osteoporosis later in life maximising bone mineral density when the body is able to lay down more bone tissue is very important.
As we get older it then becomes vital to maintain or slow the decline of bone mineral density with regular weight baring exercise and a healthy diet.
Written by Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates