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For women, one minute of running a day, keeps bones healthy

Brief bursts of intense exercise could help post-menopausal women have better bone health, according to a new study. 

Even just one minute of exercise, daily, can improve bone health in women, according to a new study done by scientists form the University of Exeter and the University of Leicester .

The researchers found that those women who did “brief bursts” of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity equivalent to a medium-paced run or a slow jog had better bone health. Their findings suggest a 60 to 120 seconds of high-intensity activity per day to improve bone health by 4%, relative to those that do less than a minute of exercise.


“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 1-2 minutes a day,” said lead author Dr Victoria Stiles, of the University of Exeter. “But there’s a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women.

The study also has its limitations, as the scientists are quick to point out but they stand by their conclusion, that just one or two minutes of exercise, will eventually prove to be beneficial for bone health.

“Because this is a cross-sectional study – which assesses data taken from a subset of the population at a particular point in time – we can’t be sure whether the high-intensity physical activity led to better bone health, or whether those with better bone health do more of this exercise”, said Stiles. “However, it seems likely that just 1-2 minutes of running a day is good for bone health.”

The findings are based on data collected form more than 2,500 women and the levels of activity were measured using writs-monitors while bone health was assessed using ultrasound scans.

And those women that did more than two minutes of high-intensity activity a day had a 6% better bone health, the study found. But for those that are not used to exercising, the doctors recommend to start with increasing walking activity.

“We wanted to make every second count in our analysis, because short snippets of high-intensity activity are more beneficial to bone health than longer, continuous periods,” she said. “We were careful not to ignore short bursts of activity throughout the day.”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.”

Good bone health is crucial to drive down the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in older age.

It is estimated that some 200 million women worldwide are suffering form osteoporosis with one osteoporosis fracture taking place every three seconds. In Europe, the U.S. and Japan, there are over 75 million people suffering form this illness.

Fragility fractures are most common at the wrist, spinal vertebrae and hip, although they can occur throughout the skeleton. The incidence of vertebral and hip fractures increases exponentially with advancing age while that of wrist fractures levels offafter the age of 60 years. Osteoporotic fractures are a major cause of morbidity and disability in the elderly, the World Health Organisation warns.

Osteoporosis has been linked to the intake of Calcium and vitamin D.  Decreasing sodium intake, increasing potassium intake, and consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables may also be beneficial in keeping bones healthy, according to several medical studies.


Sylvia Jacob