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New report highlights types of exercise children and young people need for their muscles and bones

Head office | Expertise

12 Jan 2021

A rapid evidence review commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) has highlighted the importance of specific types and intensity of exercise that children need to maximise their muscle and bone development. The research revealed that impact sports like gymnastics and dance, or team games like football and netball, are particularly effective for building strong bones.

ROS CEO Craig Jones said: “We’re delighted to be working with PHE on this vital report about the importance of muscle and bone strengthening exercise. The focus of previous guidance has been exercise to reduce conditions such as heart disease and the benefits of intensive aerobic activity, however this new evidence highlights another crucial benefit - exercise for muscle and bone strength.”

The rapid evidence review on Muscle and bone strengthening activities for children and young people (5 to 18 years) has been published on the PHE website. The evidence is now being reviewed by the ROS, PHE and other organisations to understand how best to turn these learnings into action.

The research compliments a previous consensus statement by the ROS about exercise and osteoporosis, which included recommendations for the most beneficial types of exercise for good bone health. Weight bearing exercise with some added force or impact, where the body’s weight pulls down on the skeleton, as well as high intensity muscle strengthening exercise, is recommended to promote bone strength.

Craig Jones continues: “We want to do everything we can to encourage people to understand bone health, which can be improved by the way we exercise. Osteoporosis affects 3.5m people in the UK, but only a quarter of adults are even aware of the condition. By teaching future generations about the benefits of building strong bones, as well as enjoying a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise, we can reduce the number of people who live with osteoporosis in the future.”

Osteoporosis is a devastating disease which causes bones to weaken and become vulnerable to breaking more easily. The ROS is committed to working towards a future without the disease and has recently launched its Research Roadmap to focus research priorities for the next three to five years. Building public awareness and action on bone health with partners including PHE and others, will also be key to achieving this.