Cardiovascular Exercise and Bone Health

Cardiovascular exercise is important for overall health.

Coronary heart disease is actually the leading cause of death for both men and women ( Although healthy diet and management of stress are very important, regular exercise for our heart muscle is often undervalued and overlooked.

Cardiovascular exercise can improve many other aspects of our health: blood flow to increase healing of tissues, pain reducing chemicals released in your brain, and many more.

Per the American College of Sports Medicine, recommendations for endurance exercise are: “150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, performed ideally in 20-30 min bouts”. However, thankfully, research has shown even doing shorter bouts of exercise regularly is still beneficial.

Although I am a physical therapist, I am not your personal therapist. This information is for educational purposes. Please see the medical disclaimer.

Bone health can be increased with cardiovascular exercise.

Not all cardiovascular exercise is impactful for stimulating bone. The correct types of exercise can play a significant role in improving bone health. Unfortunately, according to the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation (2022), around 54 million Americans are at risk of osteoporosis due to low bone mass. Many people have no idea they have low bone mass, and could easily be missing out on participating in activity to increase their bone health. Therefore, being aware of the best exercises to both strengthen your heart and bones may increase your health and prevent problems down the road!

Tips to increase your bone health with cardiovascular exercises:

When most people think of treatment for osteoporosis, they think of medication. However, physical therapy and the correct types of exercise can play a significant role in improving bone health, strength, safety, and prevention.

  1. Watch your posture and keep your core engaged with all exercise. Don’t set the resistance too high on a machine (elliptical or stair machine) so that you have to lean forward in poor alignment.
  2. Avoid activities that cause bending forward at your trunk- trunk flexion, and especially flexion with rotation, if you have osteoporosis. Use precaution with rowing machines.
  3. The body parts that bear weight during the activity are the bones which will be strengthened.
  4. The greater the impact the greater the stimulation of the bone, but balance that with safety, pain, and the integrity of the bone you are impacting. Light jumping rope with caution is helpful if you can perform it safely (check with your health provider to see if it is appropriate for you).
  5. Although swimming is great for osteoarthritis (joint pain) the buoyancy of the water detracts from impact stimulating the bone, and is not helpful for increasing bone mass.
  6. Biking is similar to swimming where the impact into the bone is minimal, therefore the bone stimulation is lacking.
  7. An exercise class with standing activities, step class (affiliate link), or dance moves will provide impact. Be cautious with bending or twisting, and balance safety.
  8. Walking or jogging are great for bone stimulation for legs and hips. According to research a 2.5 mph minimum pace is where stimulation of the bone begins with walking. (Pellikaan, et al 2018)
  9. Progress by adding hills, steps, increasing speed, or hiking with walking poles. 
  10. One popular method to increase bone stress and challenge with walking is to use a weighted vest (affiliate link)- be cautious of increasing joint pain (think hips and knees), and talk with your health care provider for specific recommendations.

Monitor your exercise and improve your follow through and progress with printable health handouts! Print this FREEBIE out to log your walking, and check the blog for more!

Creative Home Therapy Printable Packets or Health Packets on

Other posts you may like:

10 Tips for a Senior Walking Program

Tips for Preventing Falls

My Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Osteoporosis

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3 thoughts on “Cardiovascular Exercise and Bone Health

  1. I am a registered nurse and this information used to get beat into our heads during nursing school. Cardiovascular exercises is one of the best way to fight heart disease. I would have to keep this reminder in mind when I am at the gym. Thank you so much for this!

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