02/01/2012 07:40 am ET | Updated Feb 01, 2012

Work Hard For Denser Bones

Starting around age 30, many women begin to experience bone density loss. And while it may not be apparent for years, or even decades, that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do about it. It's no secret that working out -- everything from strength training to high-impact activities like jumping rope -- helps improve bone density. A new study confirms the bone benefit of high-impact cardio and also finds that it's the regularity of exercise that makes the biggest difference.

Researchers followed 1,061 25-year-old Swedish women, measuring total body bone density, as well as density of neck, spine and hip bones. Over half the women said they exercised regularly, naming activities like running, strength training, aerobics and spinning, though 30 percent of the respondents didn't exercise once in the year-long period of study. Even at the young age of 25, women who reported being highly active and who tested well for endurance and intensity on a peak strain score (PSS) test also had higher bone density in both their hips and spine. The key was a dedicated fitness practice with high impact workouts: "Combined regularity and impact ... conferred the greatest gains in BMD," wrote the researchers.

So what counts as high-impact exercise? Reported Women's Health:

Running, plyometrics exercises, jumping jacks, jumping rope, or anything that involves both of your feet being off of the ground at the same time. You'll score a serious cardio burn and help strengthen your bones.

What's more, the researchers found that women who remembered enjoying gym class during school were more likely to exercise regularly. That's not a big surprise, but it is an indication that finding pleasure in the hard work of exercise is the key to keeping at it. Find something you love, get your feet off the ground and keep those bones healthy.