The one question that many scientists and fitness professional debate is whether exercise or nutrition has a bigger impact on bone density and strength. Until recently, there was no study that answered this question. However, recently researchers at the University of Michigan answered that question. These researchers looked at mineral supplementation and exercise in mice and found surprising results—nutrition has a greater impact on bone mass and strength than exercise. Further, even after the exercise training stopped, the mice retained bone strength gains as long as they ate a mineral supplement or a diet rich in mineral supplements.
The second important finding is that the diet alone has beneficial effects on bone, even without exercising. However, the researchers cautioned that combining the two – exercise and mineral supplementation – amplifies the effect of producing strong bones.
Most other studies look at effects of increasing dietary calcium, Kohn said. The U-M study increased calcium and phosphorous and found benefits to increasing both.
This isn’t to suggest that you should run out and buy calcium and phosphorus supplements. You should eat a balanced diet, that is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. If you want to take supplements, I highly recommend consulting with a physician.
It’s important to start working out at a young age and making sure you get enough calcium and other minerals. We achieve peak bone mass in our early 20s, and after that, it begins to decline. The question becomes how to maximize the amount of bone when young so that when declines do begin, people start from a better position. You can definitely stop the deterioration by working out and making sure you get enough minerals, but it’s great to start off with a strong base.