The Benefits of Exercise on our Bones

You have probably heard the expression, “Use it or lose it.” While this simple phrase is thrown around frequently in the realm of exercise and health, it relays a lot of truth to the way our body maintains its structures and functions.

We often think of our muscles and circulatory system gettin

g the most out of physical activity, but our bones benefit greatly behind the scenes. Just as our muscles and heart get stronger and more efficient with training, our bones must also grow stronger to hold up to the stress of training at higher intensities or heavier weights.

This change is due to a theory called Wolff’s Law, which

states that bone will adapt to the stress placed on it in a healthy body.

Many of the activities we do every day put stress on our bones, causing wear and tear over time. Fortunately, this is mitigated by a continuous remodeling process that our bones undergo. This remodeling process breaks down old bone cells to make room for new ones. While this concept is fairly simple, it also takes into account the stress and demand on the bones and reinforces areas of high stress by remodeling those parts of the bone to be thicker. However, just as stress causes growth of thicker bone, a lack of any stress or stimulation will cause the remodeling process to build the bone up weaker if there is no demand for strength. Based on Wolff’s Law, consistent training or exertion will lead to bone growth, while the absence of any training or stressors will lead to atrophy- a reduction of the tissue’s strength due to a lack of stimulus or need.

This is most commonly associated with skeletal muscle tissue. With consistent training, the body can make adaptations or changes to better react to the stress placed upon it. For example, a consistent training regime including lower body exercises such as squats and lunges stimulates the muscles of the legs to grow so they can overcome the stress placed upon them during training. As a side note, it m

ay be helpful to think of training as controlled bouts of acute, manageable stress placed on the body.

Staying active is one of the best things you can do to keep healthy bones. While the idea of jumping right into a rigorous strength training routine may be intimidating, we can still help our bones by staying active with more attainable exercise like walking and running. Functional body-weight exercises like these are a great place to start with bone health in mind. Our bodies are made to move, and we benefit more than just our bones by staying active.

Working on activities that are functional in our everyday lives can lower the risk of injury in those activities and help lead to better overall health as well. Even though the phrase “Use it or lose it” sounds simple, it is important to remember that we must stay active to keep not just our bones healthy, but the rest of our bodies as well.