Did you know that after about age 50, we slowly lose muscle mass and bone density?1 People can develop osteopenia and osteoporosis when that process happens more quickly than normal. The good news? We can slow this process down, if not reverse it, with proper resistance training. It is never too late.
A little exercise science: our bodies adapt to the forces we put on them.
Bones are excellent adaptors. If you put forces on a bone (such as lifting weights, jumping, or carrying a load), receptors in the cellular matrix stimulate the bone to become denser and stronger. Did you catch that? Consistent strength training or weight-bearing exercise can increase bone density.
In a similar fashion, muscles become fatigued with each strength training session and then repair themselves a bit stronger than before. This is why when you exercise, you generally improve in whatever training you are trying to do. Resistance training can help maintain muscle mass as we age.
5 moves to build healthy bones (and muscles, too!)
It is important that these exercises are done with proper form to reduce the risk of injury. If you have any questions or are not 100 percent confident in your technique, it is best to check in with a physical therapist or other healthcare professional to establish a training regimen that is tailored to you.
Important note: Not All Exercise is Created Equal
At least, not when it comes to bone health. Some very common forms of exercise – walking, cycling, and swimming – do not improve bone health (2). Yes, those are great ways to be physically active but do not deceive yourself into thinking that they will induce the bone-stimulating effects you are looking for. Find a way to integrate strength training two days a week, and then feel at ease to walk, cycle, and swim to your heart’s content.
- Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Dec;33(4):435-444. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435. PMID: 30513557; PMCID: PMC6279907.
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