Exercise for bone health: How much is too much?

If you're worried about your bone health, it's legit! Find out answers to some of the most common questions around exercise and bones here.
how to start lifting weights
Start with something simple and light weight. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 27 Jun 2022, 23:38 pm IST
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An adult’s body is made up of over 200 bones, and as you age, you must give your bone health due attention. While fitness experts are all for strengthening workouts, overindulging may not work in your favour. So then, how much exercise is good for your bones? Come, let’s find out how to keep bones healthy, from an expert!

Dr Raman Kant Aggarwal, Director, Institute Of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopaedics, Medanta Hospital, addressed some common questions related to exercise and bone health.

1. What happens to your bones if you exercise too much?

The musculoskeletal framework of the body comprises of bones which are connected to each other via joints which allow movement in the body. Muscles and ligaments also play a key role in ensuring mobility. Too much exercise can result in injuries. Sports which require one to perform repetitive actions can lead to stress fractures in the bones. Stress fractures are most common in military young recruits who march for 20 kms stretch every day. It can also happen to a people who are not physically active and suddenly take up strenuous physical exercise.

If anyone puts a lot of pressure on their bones, the bones tend to ‘fail’. The repercussions can also include ligament failures and tendon failures. Therefore, it is important to gradually develop the strength of your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the cartilage of the joints by weight training and exercises.

how to keep bones healthy
Being active can help your bones stay strong. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. How much exercise is needed for good bone health?

To maintain bone health and have a healthy skeletal structure, half an hour of weight bearing and resistance exercises for four or more days a week is recommended. Weight bearing forces one to walk and function against gravity, for example, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Resistance exercises includes such as lifting weights which also helps to strengthen bones, muscles, and ligaments in the body.

3. What are some tips to keep bones healthy?

One must take an adequate calcium, minerals and regular vitamin D which are essential for building bone density and bone health post weight bearing exercises.

strength training for women
A combination of right exercises and food can strengthen your bones! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. How many days a week should one do bone and strength activities?

* Do bone strengthening exercises on alternate days because it is important to rest the muscles.

* There are different types of strength training activities which are best for different age groups. Your fitness trainer may guide you on the types of exercises according to your body mass and medical conditions, if any.

It’s a myth that sitting in the sunlight alone can meet the Vitamin D deficiencies. The amount of sunlight one can absorb depends upon the melanin, a pigment in the body. The melanin blocks the UV lights which is the important source for Vitamin D, that is why sitting under the sun does not suffice and fulfil the body’s need for Vitamin D. It is important to regularly check the levels of Vitamin D and if the reports state low levels, your doctor can prescribe supplements which are to be taken once in a week or month depending upon the levels.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.


Keep an idea of your risk of weight-related issues.

Check BMI

Also, read: 4 basic, but important tips to keep your elders’ bones healthy and strong

vitamin d for bones
Keep a check on your vitamin D levels. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. What’s the effect of exercise and nutrition on bone health?

Bone health is largely dependent on the concentration of calcium and Vitamin D intake. The lack of calcium and vitamin D in the body can often lead to reduced bone density leading to osteoporosis and softening of bones – which leads to fractures.

One need not have to take the calcium every day. It is often prescribed for 4-6 weeks and then, after a gap of a few weeks, again for 4-6 weeks to maintain the levels. The regular intake of the calcium in the body should be 1000 mg per day for normal people and 1200 mg per day during pregnancy and in lactating mothers. The 100 grams of cheese is sufficient to give 1000 mg of calcium, a glass of milk and a bowl of curd gives 200 mg of calcium to the body.
Apart from that, nuts and vegetables can also constitute for calcium in the body. For non-vegetarians, crabs are the rich source of calcium for the body. However, a diet alone cannot help to build bone health. Regular exercise and physical activities are required for healthy bones.

milk for strong bones
Don’t underestimate the importance of milk! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. What are some bone strengthening exercises to do at home?

Walking is the best exercise one can follow for 30-40 minutes daily. In yoga, Surya Namaskar and Pranayama for the lungs on regular basis constitute a healthy regime for bone health. For outside activities, people can go cycling, play tennis and/or badminton and go swimming.

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