What are the benefits of exercise on the skeletal system?

Updated March 23, 2017

Regular exercise is commonly known for its ability to build muscle, strengthen the heart and improve overall health. However, many people don't realize the additional benefits of exercise. As the muscles are engaged, they place stress on the body's skeletal system, which consists of the bones and connective tissues. The skeletal system benefits greatly from this physical activity.

Stronger bones

During exercise, muscles pull against the bones, causing mechanical stress. As the stress on a bone increases, the bone produces more collagen-like fibers to handle the stress. These fibers develop into new bone tissue, resulting in greater bone mass, density and strength. As explained by the US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, weight-bearing exercises are most beneficial for building bone strength. These exercises include any activity that forces your body to work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, hiking, tennis, dancing and weight training.

Lower osteoporosis risk

Regular exercise significantly lowers the risk of osteoporosis, a medical condition characterized by weak, brittle bones that break easily. Because exercise builds stronger bones, it also helps maintain bone density throughout a person's life. In fact, the University of Arizona says regular exercise is even beneficial for people who have already developed osteoporosis. Although exercise can't cure osteoporosis, it can help preserve the remaining bone strength and density.

Healthy connective tissues

Regular exercise also benefits the ligaments, fascia and tendons that connect your bones and muscles to each other. Because these structures are made primarily of fibrous, elastic collagen, they require a large supply of blood and nutrition to remain healthy. As you exercise, your heart pumps a greater amount of blood throughout the body. Some of this blood is directed to these connecting tissues, which keeps them healthy and stretchy.


Overall, exercise is extremely beneficial to the health of the skeletal system. However, exercise might also be detrimental. If an exercise is done incorrectly, it may result in a fractured or broken bone. While exercising, maintain proper form. If an exercise becomes unusually painful, stop immediately and allow your body to rest. Children are also at an increased risk for injury during exercise because their bones and muscles haven't finished developing. For this reason, recommends that children "not be subjected to forms of sport involving high degrees of mechanical stress". A child's bones are weaker than adult bones, placing them at greater risk for fracture. Too much bone-building exercise during childhood years might also have adverse effects on the bone's development.

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