Most of us know that strength training with free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength.
Strong muscles create additional benefits, people with strong muscles also tend to have the strong bones, and strong bones can reduce your chances of fracture due to low bone density such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.
A combination of age-related changes, inactivity, and inadequate nutrition contribute to a gradually loss of bone mass. It’s about 1% per year after age 40. As bones become more fragile, they are more likely to break or fracture, even a minor fall or a far less obvious stress, such as bending over to tie a shoelace, even a sneeze or a cough can cause a spinal fracture.
It is estimated that eight million women and two million men in the United States have osteoporosis and is responsible for more than two million fractures each year. Experts expect that number will rise with aging and the lack of physical activity.
Hip fractures are usually the most serious. Six out of 10 people who break a hip never fully regain their former level of independence. Even walking across a room without help may become impossible.
Where inactivity accelerates the aging process and bone loss, resistance training or strength training can play an important role in slowing down or stopping bone loss, and several studies have show it can even build bone. The right exercise program is useful to help offset age-related declines in bone mass and bone health. Activities that put stress on bones can stimulate bone-forming cells into action. That stress comes from the tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength training (as well as weight-bearing aerobic exercises like walking or running). The result is stronger and denser bones that are better able to withstand unexpected stresses and allow older adult to live an active live style.
Strength training has benefits for bone health beyond those offered by aerobic weight-bearing exercise and non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling and swimming. Exercise programs can specifically target the bones of the hip, spine, upper arm (humerus bone) and wrists, which are sites most likely to fracture in the event of a fall. Additional benefits of resistance training exercise are moves that emphasizing muscle power and balance which enhance strength and stability and reduce the risk for falls. This can boost confidence, and motivate you to stay active. Building stronger and more denser muscle with strength training also helps in management of blood sugar. Muscle is important in optimizing blood sugar uptake and can help prevent and better manage diabetes, and is important in weight management by keeping body fat down.
Exercise selection for better bones
Exercise programs can vary widely to improve bone health spending on your goal and the status of your bones. Exercise programs for someone who wants to (1)prevent of bone loss, (2) rebuild bone density with suspected or diagnosed osteopenia, or (3) osteoporosis is different.
Targeted exercise training for rebuilding bone health
There are movements and exercises that are safe for someone who wants to prevent bone loss, these same exercises can put someone with osteoporosis at increased risk for fracture.
Someone who experienced a spontaneous spinal fracture who needs to rebuild strength to avoid changes in posture (kyphoses where the spine healed in an incorrect posture) would benefit from training with a physical therapist or medical exercise specialist, where someone with osteopenia who wants to rebuild bone density or someone who wants to prevent and slow down bone loss will be able to enlist the expertise of a certified personal trainer.