Short runs linked to better bone health in women

19 July 2017

A single minute of exercise each day has been linked to better bone health.

Ladies, here's some good news – a single minute of exercise each day has been linked to better bone health.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the University of Leicester have found that women who did "brief bursts" of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity equivalent to a medium-paced run for pre-menopausal women, or a slow jog for post-menopausal women, had better bone health.

Using data from UK Biobank, researchers found that women who on average did 60-120 seconds of intense activity per day had four per cent better bone health than those who did less than a minute.

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Analysing the results of more than 2,500 women, the researchers compared activity levels using data from wrist monitors with bone health, which was measured by an ultrasound scan of the heel bone.

As well as finding four per cent better bone health among women who did one to two minutes of high-intensity exercise, they found six per cent better bone health among those who did more than two minutes a day.

"We don't yet know whether it's better to accumulate this small amount of exercise in bits throughout each day or all at once, and also whether a slightly longer bout of exercise on one or two days per week is just as good as one-two minutes a day," said lead author Dr. Victoria Stiles. "But there's a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women."

Good bone health has multiple health benefits, including a reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures in older age.

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For people who are interested in increasing their day-to-day levels of activity, Dr. Stiles stated, "The UK's National Osteoporosis Society recommends increasing your walking activity first. Further on, we would suggest adding a few running steps to the walk, a bit like you might if you were running to catch a bus."

The full study has been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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