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Lift Weights For Bone Health

Strength Training: More Than Just Muscles
Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Did you know bones are alive? Bones are living tissue, not just stagnant, dead material. They contain nerves, blood vessels, and marrow. And they act like a renovation project that never ends… constantly tearing down and rebuilding. When you are a teenager, you are building more bone cells than you are losing, but the opposite is true once you near middle-age.

On average, bone mass declines at a rate of 1% for every year after age 40. In other words, by the age of 50, if you are poorly nourished and mostly inactive (as most Americans are) you are well on your way to a fragile bone state called osteoporosis (“porous bones”). In fact, if you are a caucasian women over age 50, you have a 40% risk of experiencing at least one fracture in the remainder of your life.

With weak bones fractures easily occur, not just with falls but with less strenuous activities like bending over to pick up a laundry basket or tie a shoelace. Sadly, 6 out of 10 people who break a hip never fully recover. In addition, because over 2 million Americans have osteoporosis, fracture treatment in the United States costs us nearly $17 billion annually!

Ok, so you have read all this… now what can you do to protect your bone density and reduce your risk of fractures? In addition to eating less fatty meat and more plants (especially green leafy vegetables), strength train! That’s right…strength training is good for more than just building muscles.

The good news is that any exercise that causes light stress on bones like running, brisk walking or weight lifting stimulates extra calcium deposits and activates bone-forming cells which creates stronger, denser bones and reduces bone loss.

Recommended Exercises To Improve Bone Health

Muscle Strengthening
Free Weights Exercises
Machine Weights Exercises
Resistance Band Exercises
Body Weight Exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, squats, lunges, pull ups, wall sits, crunches, chair dips, planks, etc.)
Jumping Exercises (jump rope, jump squats, jumping jacks, side jumps, jumping lunges, plyometrics, etc.)

High Impact Weight Bearing
Running
Dancing
Hiking
Stair-Climbing
Racquet Sports
Aerobics (kickboxing, step class, etc.)

Low Impact Weight Bearing
Brisk Walking
Low Impact Aerobics
Beginner Yoga
Elliptical Machines
Advanced Yoga

Non Impact
Tai Chi
Balance and Posture Exercises

bone-health

Although most exercises qualify as bone building or bone improving exercises, weight lifting exercises should be included at least twice weekly because they stimulate bone growth at the joints most susceptible to fractures: hips, spine, wrists and ribs. Be sure to include Romanian dead lifts, biceps curl and triceps extensions to target susceptible areas. However, if you currently have osteoporosis, your recommended exercises are walking, low-impact aerobics and dancing because of your greater risk of fracture if you do fall or over-stress your bones.

The greater the “stress” on your bones during exercise, the more benefit for your bones. So if you can tolerate it, choose the high impact weight bearing exercises as well as muscle strengthening exercises to get the most benefit for your exercise time.

Any amount of exercise is better than no exercise at all, so ditch the all or nothing mentality and just do what you can. But ideally plan for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Bone health won’t change overnight… it may take 6 months or longer to start realizing the benefits of stronger bones, but slowly and surely it will happen with consistent exercise.

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About the author

Viance Nutrition

Hi! I'm Walt Landi the founder and CEO of Viance Nutrition. Welcome to our Blog. I maintain this Blog as a free resource for anyone wishing to improve their health. Your comments and feedback are always welcomed and you can email me direct at walt@viance.com if you have any suggestions. Thanks. Ps. Spread the word and check out our products at viance.com. :)

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