Loss of bone mass, or osteoporosis, is something we all face as we age. Other factors besides age such as low calcium intake, use of certain medications, menopause and smoking contribute to osteoporosis. The normal exercise prescription is to participate in weight bearing activities such as walking, running, tennis or aerobics. Interesting new research indicates that weight training may be superior to traditional activities for lowering bone loss.
In a recent study, lung transplant patients were given drugs as part of their treatment which caused them to lose a substantial amount of bone mass. They were divided into two groups. One performed the typical weight bearing exercises while the other performed resistance work.
At the end of the six month study, the resistance group added an average of 15% bone mass in the lumbar spine area. The group that did the weight bearing exercises did not.
Another study had 300 post-menopausal women follow a varied resistance routine which included lifting weights, doing specific weight-resistance exercise and even wearing weighted vests. The activities stressed not only the mucles but the connective tissue as well.
Many of the woman who participated in this rigorous resistance program showed improvement in bone strengthening and stimulating bone mass. Of interest was the variety of training. How much you lift may not be the only variable to consider when strengthening bones. “Surprising” the bone with a variety of stimuli may also play a part in fighting osteoporosis.
If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for osteoporosis, consider implementing a good weight training program as part of your fitness program. You may even want to substitute weight training for your old program of regular weight bearing activity. The research is certainly in favor of weight training.
Finally, even the best weight bearing exercise program is usually a lower body activity. Weight training covers all those bones, upper and lower, needing rejuvenation.