Weight-bearing exercise can also improve muscle and bone strength which helps to reduce the risk of falls and the fractures that typically occur as a result. Exercises performed in the standing position (e.g., shoulder presses, bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions) are ideal in developing good overall muscle and bone strength. The more the load placed on your bones, the more the effect of bone stimulation and growth.
Excellent weight-bearing exercises include running, jump roping, stair climbing, dancing, basketball, volleyball, tennis, skiing, skating, soccer, hiking, gymnastics, and of course weight training. These types of exercises tend to have the most effect on maintaining or increasing bone mineral density because they involve jumping or hopping. Short bouts of vigorous weight-bearing exercises tend to be more effective for bone strengthening than long-duration sessions. For example, a short sprint is better at stimulating bone growth than a long jog. Satisfactory weight-bearing exercises include walking and using the elliptical machine. Non-impact exercises such as swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi have very little effect in terms of bone stimulation and therefore are least beneficial for bone growth.
BOTTOM LINE: To maintain or increase bone strength, perform short bouts (i.e., 5 to 10 minutes) of weight-bearing exercise (e.g., jump roping, sprints) most days of the week. If you are older, perform walking most days of the week. Even the small gains in bone strength from walking can lessen the risk of fracture.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."