Your bone strength

In the simplest terms, the overall strength of our bones depends on both the quality of our bone tissue and the quantity of it.

The quantity of our bone can be measured on a bone density (DEXA) scan, with the term ‘osteoporosis’ used to describe low bone density. Whilst having low bone density can increase our risk of breaking a bone, it doesn’t always mean a broken bone is guaranteed.

Unlike bone density, the quality of our bone tissue is not so easily measured. Poor bone quality alone doesn’t guarantee broken bones either, it is the combination of the quality and quantity of our bone tissue that determines our overall bone strength and risk of breaking a bone.

Building strong bones

Whilst our genes are key to deciding the potential size and overall strength of our skeleton, there are other choices and factors that can impact the quantity and/or quality of our bone tissue, contributing to our bones’ overall strength.

We can help to build and maintain our bone strength by taking part in regular exercise and eating a healthy balanced diet – these factors are especially important when we’re young, but are still vital to maintain bone strength as we age.

There are a number of known osteoporosis risk factors that are believed to impact our bone strength and increase our risk of broken bones. Some of these we can control, and some we cannot change. Osteoporosis risk factors can include elements of our lifestyle, genetics and medical history.

It is the combination of our diet, exercise habits and osteoporosis risk factors that can ‘paint a picture’ of our overall risk. Browse the pages in this section or take the Are you at Risk? osteoporosis quiz to find out which osteoporosis risk factors may apply to you and what changes you can make to lower your risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.

Can you prevent osteoporosis?

Nutrition for bones

Exercise for bones

Osteoporosis risk factors