What Is Bone Density And How Can We Improve It?

In todays blog I cover the best exercises for bone density. 

You may or may not be aware, but your bones are not lifeless structures but are actually living, growing tissues made up of collagen. 

Bones are continuously remodeled through a lifelong process of breakdown of old bone tissue and deposit of new bone tissue. Bone mass peaks during your 30’s and after that time we begin to lose bone as the remodeling process slows down. 


This bone loss is called osteopenia, when bone density becomes lower than normal, but the good news is this can be improved through exercise and dietary strategies and may also require GP advice. Osteopenia can progress to osteoporosis if no action is taken. 


Osteoporosis is a more severe disease categorised by low bone density and weaker bones that can lead to a higher risk of fractures and other complications. 


A key focus is to reduce bone loss in older life through exercise and adequate nutritional intake. 


We know that exercise is good for bones but how does it help? 


Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to loads by becoming stronger and more dense. Exercises that put stress on the skeleton stimulate bone cells to promote bone growth. 


Bones benefit when a certain amount of impact or strain is placed on them which makes specific types of exercise most beneficial.  


The 2 best types of exercise for improving bone density are: 


  1. Strength training and weight bearing exercises including squats, deadlifts, lunges, step ups, push ups, pull ups, bench press and shoulder press. Weighted exercises using heavy loads @85% 1RM, which is 5 heavy reps, will be most beneficial as the external load will provide more stress and lead to more bone growth.


  2. Impact exercises or plyometrics- box jumps, skipping, jumping, bounding and landing activities- with up to 50 impacts per session. These types of exercise provide a shock to the body that the bones will need to absorb and again provide a stimulus to grow stronger through the remodeling process.


As the evidence shows, strength and resistance training is a key component of healthy strong bones. 


To get to know how strength training can help you and to see how our strength classes can be beneficial check it out here: Movement Innovation Strength Classes


Written By Aaron Ashdown, Exercise Physiologist & Trainer at Movement Innovation