Physical activity is the foremost stimulator of bone. When you exercise, your muscles place tension on your bones, which respond by stimulating bone formation.

If you’re looking for a simple way to reduce your risk of fracture dramatically, start an exercise program. Research shows that women who engage in regular exercise have one-half to one-third the fracture risk as women who do not exercise!

Bone responds to the demands placed on it. When you engage in exercise — especially weight-bearing exercise — you are literally telling your bones to become more resilient. On the other hand, bone seeks to be no heavier than necessary and will become lighter and thinner if we are physically inactive.

Exercise also benefits you by helping maintain mobility and balance as you age. Falls are the leading cause of fracture in the elderly, and when you are physically fit and strong you are less likely to fall.

If you’re wondering how much you have to exercise for any benefit, research suggests that women doing vigorous exercise twice a week or total physical activity of four hours a week have significantly higher bone density than women with lower activity levels. Vigorous exercise is generally needed to build bone, but even less strenuous exercise like moderate walking can help prevent further bone loss. In short, any amount of physical activity is beneficial to your bones.

The Diet and Lifestyle eGuide in our Better Bones Program includes tips on starting a bone health exercise program and getting the most from your physical activity.

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