The 1-Minute Trick to Strengthen Your Bones

bone health

If you’re in the “an-hour-or-it-doesn’t-count” camp when it comes to exercise, consider this: a recent study found that just one minute of running per day had big bone-building benefits for women. So if lack of time has been your go-to workout excuse, get ready to lace up your sneakers and get moving.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of Leicester found that women who did brief bursts of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity for just 60 to 120 seconds a day had 4% better bone health than women who did less than a minute (and women who did more than two minutes had 6% better bone health). If you’re wondering what a “high-intensity, weight-bearing activity” looks like in the real world, the scientists define it as the equivalent of a medium-paced run for premenopausal women, or a slow jog for postmenopausal women.

Why a One-Minute Workout Matters To You

Bone health is a big deal, especially for women. “Osteoporosis, or ‘thinning of the bones,’ is the leading cause of major fractures of the hip, back, and wrist as we get older,” says One Medical primary care doctor Malcolm Thaler, MD. “Women, as they age past menopause, are particularly susceptible, but men are at risk too as they get older. The healthier your bones are when you are young, the better they will stand up to the effects of aging and will better resist becoming weak and brittle.”

But before you cancel your gym membership, it’s important to read the fine print: researchers still have a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to their findings. Because the study is cross-sectional (meaning it analyzed data from a subset of the population at one specific point in time), it’s hard to say whether the one-minute workouts led to better bone health or if people with stronger bones just tend to do more of that kind of exercise.

How to Reap the Most Bone-Building Benefits

While experts are still working out the exact association, one thing is for sure: exercise makes a major difference when it comes to building healthy bones, and any amount of activity is a good idea. So what kind of workout is best?

“Strength training with weights has proven time and time again to help people build and maintain healthy bone density,” says Tarquin Thornton-Close, a certified personal trainer at Triptych Strength,. “Load bearing exercises done in a safe and progressive manner can especially help aging women avoid or improve osteoporosis.” And if pumping iron isn’t for you, know that “load-bearing exercise” can include anything from walking and jogging to climbing stairs and dancing.

If you’re looking for other surefire ways to boost your bone health, take a look at what’s on your plate. “Your diet can make a big difference,” Thaler says. “Because calcium is an important component of the mineral structure of your bones, you want to eat foods rich in calcium, such as low-fat dairy products, green leafy vegetables and almonds.”

But as for exercise, the final word for now seems to be that while more is more for better bones, any amount is a good idea. “It’s almost a certainty that the more you exercise, the more your bones will benefit,” Thaler says. “And if you’re not into heart-pounding exercise, a good walk every day will do the job.”

19 Comments   Join the Conversation

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  • hey iff say running is a good bone strengthener how come from running i got a stress fracture in the front of my pelvis and my g/f recently just and 2 pins put in her hip then ???

  • Hi I eat a lot of dairy toget my celcium n victim an d, I have ra n fibermalga out of shape what are so,e easy things I can start with

    • You know start with just walking and climbing stairs. I find just getting up and moving itself helps me with my neck and back pain. Start slow and font get obsessive about it

  • Michelle, thank you for this incredibly insightful article. It explains quite a bit of what I’ve experienced lately.

    Earlier this year I was diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis of the hip. A devastating blow to say the least considering my very active lifestyle. I immediately started physical therapy and reduced or stopped doing many athletic activities per doctor’s order. However, my PT did not agree and instead recommended I continuie as before but with less intensity and more modified approaches to prevent harmful impact to my hip.

    While I contemplated whether to follow doctor’s order or my PT’s suggestion, my boyfriend surprised me with a birthday trip to Ireland to hike the country’s Atlantic west coast. I was furious with him for not understanding and appreciating my “delicate” condition. I almost didn’t go. But it was a free trip, so, of course I went!

    For 8 dsys we hiked through Counties Kerry and Clare along some of the most awesome trails in the world. We hiked anywhere from 6-12 miles per day. And my hip never felt better!

    I know walking helps. Because when I returned to the US I stopped walking and my hips became inflamed and I started limping again. I’ve since resumed walking and doing my other activities. My hips are stronger, more stable and I walk with a slight stiffness.

  • There are no tricks or
    one minute fixes when it is comes to exercise.Firstly find an accredited fitness coach and start properly and to build the correct foundations to a healthybody,don’t run before you can walk,

  • mostly this advice is good … but milk is NOT a good source of ANYTHING , according to a lot of studies I have seen . and my own experience is that milk CAUSES a lot of problems that you don’t want!!

  • oh .. i forgot to mention that I am not a doctor , and therefore cannot give medicle advise, BUT I am a great grandfather with MANY years experience, so here is my “suggestion” : if you drink milk regularly now .. STOP .. your health will thank you for it the rest of your life!

  • I am female prior military and got into the habit of exercising 30 plus years ago. I can still run a couple of miles 3-4 days a week and lift light weights. Although not as fast as I once was (60 years old) I still feel it is important for bone health. I take calcium and Vit D but no other prescription meds. A lot to be said for regular exercise.

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