How does physical activity help build healthy bones?
Bones are living tissue. Weight-bearing physical activity causes new bone tissue to form, and this makes bones stronger. This kind of activity also makes muscles stronger. Bones and muscles both become stronger when muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity.
Weight-bearing physical activity keeps you on your feet so that your legs carry your body weight.
Some examples of weight-bearing physical activities include: walking, jogging, running, climbing stairs, jumping rope and other types of jumping, playing sport and lifting weights.
Swimming and cycling are not weight-bearing activities, so they do not directly help build bones. But swimming and cycling do help build strong muscles, and having strong muscles helps build strong bones. These activities are also good for the heart and overall health.
Bone-strengthening activities are especially important for children and teens because the greatest gains in bone mass occur just before and during puberty. They obtain their lifetime peak bone mass in their teens.
- Children and teens aged 6 to 17 years should get a total of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Short bursts of activity throughout the day can add up to the recommended total.
- Children and teens should participate in bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days each week.
- Younger children, aged 2 to 5 years, should play actively several times every day.