Exercises to build your bone strength in your 20’s

While a loss of bone density is not likely to be on the minds of men and women in their 20’s, this decade is an important time to invest in bone health; how you treat your bones now, while you are still young, will help determine their health in the years that follow. Most people will reach their maximum bone strength and density between the ages of 25 and 301 and bones will very gradually lose their mass thereafter. Through healthy lifestyle practices during your 20’s, you can have a positive influence your bone mass and help ensure good bone health for later years. To build and support bone strength it is important to consume an adequate amount of calcium, maintain normal vitamin D levels and avoid smoking, known to negatively affect bone health. Specific types of exercise are also important for healthy bones. It is recommended that adults in their 20’s incorporate:

  • 30 minutes of weight bearing activity at least four times a week.1 Bones respond when they are forced to bear more weight than they are used to. Good weight bearing exercises include2
    • Brisk walking.
    • Jogging.
    • Basketball/netball.
    • Tennis.
    • Dancing.
    • Impact aerobics.
    • Stair climbing.
  • Muscle strengthening activities at least two times a week1 such as:
    • Lifting weights.
    • Using weight machines.
    • Performing exercises that use your own body weight for example push‐ups or squats.

Although the focus on these exercises is on strengthening and building muscles, they also put stress on bones which helps to build bone.3

To get the most out of these activities and to challenge bones and muscles, 20‐something men and women should vary their exercise routine and ensure that it progresses over time. Do this by increasing the degree of exercise difficulty, the amount of weight used or the height of jumps.2 Exercise is also more beneficial to bones when it is performed in short intensive bursts.2 Boot camp style classes or circuit training combining weight‐bearing and muscle strengthening activities, performed in short bouts, may be effective bone‐builders for people in their 20’s.