Exercises to build your bone strength in your 40’s

Along with adequate calcium and vitamin D, exercise is a key component for maintaining bone strength and minimising bone loss as you grow older. Bone mass and strength start to very gradually decline from your 30’s, so it is important to incorporate bone building exercise in your routine. The ability for exercise to build and strengthen bone is known as its osteogenic capacity and the most osteogenic activities include weight‐bearing and resistance exercise.1 To maintain better bone density in your 40’s, include 30 minutes of the following osteogenic exercises four to six times a week.2

Weight‐bearing exercise

Weight bearing exercise involves activities where your feet and legs support your body weight. This places stress on the bones forcing them to work harder. Weight‐bearing exercise includes brisk walking, jogging, hiking, tennis, netball, basketball, dancing, impact aerobics, stair climbing and jumping rope.1

Resistance (strength) training

When muscles pull on the bones during resistance training, it stimulates the bone to increase its mass. Resistance training includes exercises that use targeted muscle groups to lift and lower moderate to heavy weights. They can be machine‐based for example using the leg press, seated rower or pull‐down, or done using free weights such as dumbbells.3 The impact of weight bearing and resistance exercise on bone health and strength is improved when:2

  • It gets progressively harder over time.
  • There is variety in the exercise routine rather than repetition.
  • It is performed in short high intensity bursts rather than long, slower low impact sessions.

Other

Although considered low osteogenic, low‐impact exercise such as yoga and tai chi, is still beneficial for improving balance, posture and muscle strength and can be combined with the above activities. Swimming and cycling are considered non osteogenic as they have little benefit for your bones, although they are great forms of exercise for general health and fitness.1