Exercising in youth strengthens your bones

By Michelle Champalanne • Published: June 13th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Adults who were active as children may have stronger bones than those who didn’t exercise as kids.

The more you exercise, the stronger your bones get. That’s because your bones are living tissue. In the same way that muscles get stronger after a workout, bones do too. Now researchers are saying exercising when you’re young helps bones grow strong and big for the rest of your life.

The study focused on retired baseball players, split into two groups. One group stopped throwing when their professional baseball careers ended. The other group continued to throw baseballs for another 20 years after their careers were over.

Research from the study showed that while the continued exercise did not make bones bigger, it did prevent the loss of bone from the inside.

The findings showed that half of the bone size and about one-third of the bone strength gained from exercise during a person’s younger years persisted into old age.

The researchers did find that the mass of new bone added as a result of exercising during youth was gradually lost, however. Researchers say this is expected because it doesn’t make sense for your body to keep mass it no longer needs.

Researchers say that as you age, you lose bone mostly from the inside, rather than the outside. That means the bigger and stronger your bones are, the longer they’ll still be big and strong.

Researchers suggest children exercise at least an hour a day. One-third of that time should be filled with weight-bearing exercise such as running, jumping rope or playing basketball. This is when forces act on the skeleton from different directions and build up the bone.

So, help your kids have strong and healthy bones by starting them with exercise early. And continue to exercise into old age to also hold onto those bone health gains generated during youth.