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Study: One Minute a Day of Weight-Bearing Exercise May Improve Bone Health

November 09, 2017

It turns out that even one minute of exercise can be beneficial for the body, according to one recent study.

In the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers reviewed data for more than 2,500 women to assess the connection between their activity level and bone health. Wearable wrist devices were used to track the women’s level of activity, while researchers used an ultrasound scan of the heel bone to assess bone health.

Researchers discovered that women who did between one to two minutes a day of high intensity, weight-bearing exercises had 4 percent better bone health than those who did less than a minute of these exercises a day. Naturally, those who exercised more fared even better — women who did more than two minutes a day of high intensity, weight-bearing exercises had 6 percent better bone health. High intensity, weight-bearing exercises include running, high-impact aerobics, stair climbing or playing a sport like tennis.

The study’s findings emphasize the importance of regular physical activity for improved bone health, but it’s not entirely clear whether those who already had good bone health tended to do more weight-bearing activity, or whether short bursts of activity actually drove the results researchers found in the study. It’s the classic chicken-or-the-egg scenario, so researchers will need to do additional studies to more clearly understand the link between bone health and weight-bearing activity.

However, exercise in general is good for bone health, especially as you age. As you get older, your bones may become weaker and you may experience osteoporosis, which can increase your risk of a fall, fracture or injury. Consuming more calcium and vitamin D can help to combat this disease,

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, exercise strengthens bone in the same way it does muscles, allowing the bones to build more cells and become more dense.

Doing weight-bearing and strength-training exercises are the best ways to build strong bones, so consider incorporating activities like dancing, jogging, running, weight lifting or even power walking into your routine.

Ten million people in the country have osteoporosis. However, the disease is more common in older women. Some studies have indicated that 1 in 2 women will break a bone in their lifetime because of osteoporosis — a risk that is higher than a woman’s chances of experiencing a heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.

Medicine and eating a healthy  diet can increase bone strength, but lack of physical activity could put you at risk for weaker bones. Risk factors for osteoporosis include age, physical inactivity, a family history, low bone density and being thin and small. Some of these risk factors are out of your control, but exercise isn’t one of them. You can control how much and what type of exercise you do and how regularly you do it, so get active and stay active. As the study indicates, even one minute a day may be good for your bone health.

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