EXETER, England — Performing just one minute a day of vigorous exercise can help women improve their bone health, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Exeter used data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale study that monitors various health aspects in participants for research use for various reports, to compare activity levels to bone health in 2,500 women.
To measure activity levels, the Biobank study deployed wrist-worn monitors on its participants. Ultrasound scans were used to evaluate individuals’ bone health.
The researchers found that those who completed 60 to 120 seconds a day of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity — i.e., a medium-paced run for pre-menopausal females, or a slow jog for post-menopausal women — reaped the rewards of at least 4% better bone health than those who didn’t do such 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,” says lead author Dr. Victoria Stiles in a press release.
There is, however, “a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women,” Stiles elaborates.
The researchers did warn that since the study was cross-sectional — meaning it only looked at outcomes at a given point in time — it may not reflect other variables that could affect bone health over the long-term.
In the UK Biobank study, activity level measurements took place over the course of a week.
It’s worth mentioning that the more a woman exercised, the more benefits she accrued.
Case in point: those whose daily exercise routines were longer than two minutes experienced at least 6% better bone health.
Good bone health is associated with a number of health benefits, including a lowered risk of osteoporosis and fractures in one’s later years, the researchers note.
The study’s findings were published last month in the International Journal of Epidemiology.