Using a mathematical model which relates bone density to daily stress histories, the influence of physical activities on the apparent density of the calcaneal cancellous bone was investigated. Assuming that the mechanical bone maintenance stimulus is constant for all bone tissue, bone apparent density was calculated by a linear superposition of the mechanical stimulus provided by different daily physical activities. An empirical weighting factor, m, accounted for possible differences in the relative importance of load magnitude and number of cycles in each activity. By considering hypothetical variations in body weight and occupational activity levels, the range of probable m values was established. The model was then applied to the results of two previous running studies in which calcaneal density was measured to obtain an estimate of the stress exponent parameter, m. The results indicate that stress magnitudes (or joint forces) have a greater influence on bone mass than the number of loading cycles. We demonstrate that by carefully considering the magnitudes of imposed skeletal forces and the number of loading cycles, it may be possible to design exercise programs to achieve predictable changes in bone mass.