Project Healthy Bones

Project Healthy Bones is a 24-week exercise and education program for older women and men at risk for, or who have osteoporosis.

The program includes exercises that target the body’s larger muscle groups to improve strength, balance and flexibility. The 24-week curriculum includes sessions on the importance of exercise, nutrition, safety, drug therapy and lifestyle factors. Lead Coordinators from local health departments, county offices on aging, Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVPs) and other community-based organizations coordinate the program at the local level and oversee program delivery and training for peer leaders.

The program is offered at community sites throughout the state.

Find a Class PHB Brochure

If your agency is interested in having staff training as Lead Coordinators, holding a Project Healthy Bones class, or for information on how to find a class in your area, please call the Office of Community Resources, Education and Wellness at 609-438-4797.

Project Healthy Bones began in 1997 and today reaches over 1,500 older adults through nearly 100 programs and a network of over 200 agency staff and volunteer peer leaders statewide. The program is based on research that links strength training exercises to improved bone density in older adults.

The program has demonstrated improved balance, increased strength, improved nutrition, home falls prevention and increased socialization among participants. In a study of 271 participants, 90% of participants completing the class increased the average amount of weight lifted by ¾ to 1 pound, and 68% increased their calcium intake by an average of 500 mg.

Project Healthy Bones Curriculum includes exercises that target the body's larger muscle groups which are designed to improve strength, balance and flexibility. Participants are provided with weight cuffs with one-pound pellets which allow for individualized progression. The 24-week curriculum educates participants on the importance of exercise, nutrition, safety, drug therapy and lifestyle factors as they relate to osteoporosis. The education portion of the class is interactive, with the leaders facilitating the exchange of information.

Older adults, or peer leaders, guide and support group participants as they exercise and learn. Leading the class in pairs, the peer leaders provide both class instruction and individualized assistance. On a personal level, peer leaders improve their own health and well-being while serving as role models for others.

More than 2,000 older New Jerseyans have participated in the program as either a peer leader or class member. Many classes continue to meet after completing the 24-week cycle.

Through a bone mineral density test Mr. Wong, a man over age 60, learned that he has low bone density, or early-stage osteopenia. Following his diagnosis, Mr. Wong and his wife joined Project Healthy Bones.

After one year of program participation, Mr. Wong reported significant improvement in his health and overall quality of life. He credits this improvement to Project Healthy Bones, as he did not take any medication or make any other significant lifestyle changes related to bone health. Mr. Wong exercises once each week as part of the class and twice each week at home.

Their positive experience with Project Healthy Bones led Mr. and Mrs. Wong to be trained as peer leaders. They currently lead a class. Statewide, women make up the majority of participants in Project Healthy Bones. The number of men is increasing, however, and as stated by Mr. Wong, "Project Healthy Bones is for everyone, not just women."

The Wongs praise the program and believe that in addition to promoting awareness of osteoporosis, the classes encourage seniors to take an active role in maintaining their health.

Elder people exercising