#Bonesmatter Challenge

About the challenge

Bones are the body’s foundation, providing support, structure and protection to our organs. Strong bones matter for leading long, healthy, active and independent lives and allowing us to keep doing all the things that we love. Bone health matters, no matter your age! 
This challenge arms you with key knowledge for bone health and encourages you to develop everyday positive and healthy habits across a six week period to build stronger bones. The three key elements for building stronger bones at every life stage are:

  • Adequate daily calcium – through foods such as milk, cheese or yoghurt;
  • Regular weight-bearing exercise; and
  • Safe vitamin D from the Sun.

Experts Joel Feren, The Nutrition Guy, and Janis Blums, Firefighter and Personal Trainer, share their tips on how to improve bone strength and healthy habits at all stages of life through diet, exercise and vitamin D. 

About Dietitian Joel Feren

Joel Feren is The Nutrition Guy (TNG), an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist with a background in the biomedical sciences. Joel undertook his Masters in Dietetics following his undergraduate degree in Behavioural Neuroscience and Honours in Exercise Physiology.  He regularly consults to the food industry and in private practice, helping clients to achieve improved health with good nutrition. 

Joel Feren

Joel’s nutrition tips for better bones

Along with regular exercise, the main ingredients for good bone health are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is the major building block of bones, while vitamin D helps absorb it. Together they act in synergy to help promote bone structure and health. They’re the perfect couple!

Nutrition for bone health throughout the life stages 

Age Why?
Childhood Childhood is the biggest opportunity to build strong bones for life. That's why it's so important for growing kids to get enough calcium, exercise and vitamin D.

A calcium-rich diet during childhood helps maximise peak bone mass and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in later life.
 Adolescence The teenage years are a major growth period. In fact, over roughly two years (ages 12-14 for girls and ages 13-15 for boys) teens' bodies build one-quarter of their adult bone mass. With this in mind, it is vital that teenagers have enough calcium-rich foods such as dairy foods, participate in plenty of exercise and get sufficient vitamin D to ensure their bones have the building blocks needed to grow and be strong.
 Adulthood  Adulthood is a busy time: juggling work, raising a family and managing financial responsibilities. Remember that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can help you get the balance just right.

Peak bone mass is reached when you’re in your late twenties, and, after this it is vital to continue to get adequate calcium, exercise and vitamin D in order to maintain the bone you have built
 Older age  Poor bone health affects 2 in 3 Australians and this number is expected to increase as our population continues to age. Brittle bones can lead to serious fractures which can cause chronic pain, disability and loss of independence.

Women are at greater risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis because the rapid drop in the hormone oestrogen during menopause causes bone loss.

milk cheese yoghurt 

Dairy foods provide a ‘nutritional punch’; they contain over 10 nutrients important for our general health, nervous system and muscle function, energy levels and, of course, bone health. More specifically, dairy foods are a rich source of vitamins A, B12, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous as well as protein and low GI carbohydrates. 

What does a serve of dairy look like?

The following is an estimate of what one serve of dairy looks like:

  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 2 slices (40g) or 4 x 3 x 2cm cube (40g) of hard cheese, such as cheddar or parmesan 
  • 1/2 cup (120g) ricotta cheese
  • 3/4cup (200g) yoghurt

one serve of dairy equals 

Calcium can also be found in non-dairy food options such as alternative milk beverages, leafy green vegetables, canned fish with soft edible bones such as sardines or salmon, almonds and tofu.
The list below shows you how much of these foods you would need to provide the same amount of calcium as you would find in one glass of milk (approximately 300mg):

1 serve of a calcium alternative could be: 

  • 1 cup (250ml) soy, rice or other cereal drink with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100ml
  • 100g almonds with skin
  • 60g sardines, canned in water
  • 1/2cup (100g) canned pink salmon with bones
  • 100g firm tofu (check the label as calcium levels vary) 

Note: some plan foodsd contain phytates and oxalates that can interfere with calcium absoroption.

Need to boost your calcium intake? 

There are some simple and easy steps to take to make sure you boost your daily calcium intake without changing your regular meal routine. The following suggestions are some ways you can be sure you are getting the recommended amount of calcium each day. 


  • Kick off the day by adding yoghurt to your morning bowl of cereal or brekkie smoothie,
  • Having eggs? Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top!


  • Add cheese and a handful of spinach to your sandwhich or salad
  • Include tinned salmon for an extra calcium hit

Afternoon tea:

  • This is a great time to munch on some cheese and crackers or down a tub of yoghurt


  • A tofu (aim for one that is calcium-set) stir-fry with plenty of greens is packed full of calcium
  • Even add a sprinkling of sesame seeds for an extra hit

And don't forget, a glass of milk is an easy way for you to help get your daily calcium. Go and get yourself a milk moustache and wear it proudly!

Check out Joel's bone building recipes:

Follow Joel on Instagram and the hashtag #bonesmatter for weekly updates from 20th October 2018.

Download dietitian-designed meal planners from the Dairy Kitchen. 

About Trainer Janis Blums

Janis Blums is a firefighter and head trainer at Sweaty Soul Sydney. He is also a leading mentor for breathing, movement and stress within the corporate sector and has presented for companies such as Apple, Microsoft and the Sydney Opera House. In 2016 and 2018, Janis led the Sydney Opera House ‘Sunrise on the Steps’ health and fitness community initiative.

Janis Blum

Janis’ Healthy Bones Fitness Program 

Across the six week challenge Janis encourages you to embark on a strength, power and play training program targeted at building a robust and resilient musculoskeletal system.

Each week will contain three training sessions, of which, two will focus on home-based strength and power movements and the third on activities that are fun, encourage learning and of course build stronger healthier bones.

  • Session 1: A strong start (gym or home-based strength session)
  • Session 2: Powering through the week (high-intensity power session)
  • Session 3: Play for the week's end (activity-based training session)

Like all training programs, this plan is designed for you to move at your own pace, so you can make gradual improvements across the six-week duration while also fitting these sessions into your own weekly schedule.

This program provides example workouts for you to follow. However, if you have your own variations and additions, feel welcome to mix it up to suit your own ability. 
Remember, when completing these sessions, get outside and enjoy some sunshine! Adequate absorption of vitamin D is one of the three key actions for healthy bones! 

Follow Janis on Instagram and the hashtag #bonesmatter for weekly updates from 20th October 2018.

Download Janis's 6 week bone health training plan.

Things to note before you begin

  • Excessive sweating and long duration exercise (typically greater than 60 minutes) can lead to a loss of calcium levels and therefore have a detrimental impact on building bone density and strength. It’s important to monitor your sweat levels and training duration to avoid such losses.
  • Lifting heavy loads places the neuromuscular system under high amounts of stress, therefore 2-3-minute rest intervals have been programmed between working sets of the same lift.
  • If this is your first time at commencing a strength program, it’s always a good idea to first screen your ability before undertaking these programs and ease into the program slowly.
  • Session 1 can be completed twice if you are unable to perform the Session 2 high-intensity workout. Split Session 1 into two days and perform a higher set range on both days to increase volume but maintain load intensity.
  • ALWAYS WARM UP! A workout example is available within the downloadable training guide.