Does exercise really build strong bones? Well, to be completely transparent upfront, this is a trick question.
The answer is yes to a certain population and no to another population.
Early in life, we build up our bones, which are the important years because our peak bone mass age is around age 25. Soon after we hit our peak we start to lose bone faster than we can build it, which can start as early as 30 years old.
So does exercise build strong bones? Yes, but it has its limitations the older we get.
It’s clear that exercise in youth builds strong bones, and that this benefit sticks around for a good amount of time. Compared to those that live a more sedentary life, people who were elite athletes in their youth have greater bone mass and bone strength in their later years because they built up their bone mass and strength early on, even if they’ve stopped training.
Does this mean that as we get older, we should stop exercising? No. Of course, there are many benefits of exercising regularly but in regard to this topic, it can help preserve the bone that is left. Meaning if older people keep exercising, then their chances of losing their bone mass drastically decreases.
Some would argue that older people need to go beyond just walking. They need to do more with their exercise than something that is within their normal life. For instance, the body can handle walking with its body weight, but adding weight, strength training or some resistance training was added in addition to the walking then preserving their bone mass is much greater. For example, adding in a little workout session with resistance bands or light weights a couple times a week can do a lot more for the older population’s bones, than just walking alone can.