The Effects of Exercise on Bones & Muscles

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Physical inactivity can lead to many health problems and affect the state of our bones and muscles. Both bones and muscles are living tissues that respond to exercise by becoming stronger, so it stands to reason that a sedentary lifestyle may have the reverse effect.

Lack of exercise, bone health and osteoporosis

Regular exercise at all stages of life plays an important role in maintaining or improving our bone density and strength.1 As we age, the structure of our bones changes, leading to a loss of bone tissue which is encouraged by inactivity.2 On the other hand, regular physical activity can slow down the rate at which bone mass is lost thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis.2

Inactivity and muscle health

Just like our bones, muscles need to be used to stay strong. Inactivity results in a chronic imbalance between muscle synthesis and breakdown leading to a loss of muscle mass and strength.3 Exercise builds muscle size and strength and can slow or even reverse the decline in muscle mass that occurs with aging.2 Plus strong muscles leads to strong bones. When we work our muscles, they pull on our bones which stimulate extra deposits of calcium into bone and the formation of new bone.4

The right kind of exercise for your bones and muscles

To support your bone and muscle health it’s important to have a regular exercise routine. The best muscle strengthening exercises include lifting free weights, using gym machines or using your own body weight as resistance by doing push‐ups, sit ups and squats. Our bones benefit from resistance type exercises too by becoming stronger. Weight‐bearing exercises such as brisk walking, playing tennis or netball, and jumping rope also have a positive effect on bone health.

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Published May 8, 2014
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