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How does exercise make bones stronger?

Bones are not static. Certain cells called osteoblasts constantly bring calcium into bones to make them stronger and osteoclasts take calcium from bones. Exercise increases the rate that osteoblasts strengthen bones. Inactivity slow osteoblastic activity to weaken bones. So any exercise that places force on a bone will strengthen that bone. 

If they live long enough, every woman and most men will suffer from osteoporosis. Women who break their hips from osteoporosis must have a hip replacement immediately. Otherwise, they have a 20 percent chance of dying from complications within a year. A study from Australia shows that running strengthens the leg bones of both older and younger women (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, October 2005.) However, the research shows that bones used in an exercise are the only bones that are strengthened by that activity. So running strengthens leg bones, rowing strengthens arms and back, and lifting weights strengthen bones that are used for each lift.

Checked 4/4/17

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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