First, what is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and fragile bones that are liable to fracture. Normal, strong and healthy bones contain large amounts of minerals, which make them strong. The amount of these bone minerals within our bones is referred to as our bone mineral density (BMD).
Our bones are in a constant state of adaptation, with bone being broken down and remodeled and rebuilt continuously. When bones break down faster than they rebuild, our bone mineral density decreases.
Our BMD is highest when we are aged in our 20s, and then as we get older our BMD gradually declines. If this loss of minerals from the bone is excessive, our BMD will become very low, and we will develop osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a common cause of fractures in older Americans, especially women. In women, the greatest rate of bone loss occurs in the years immediately following menopause.
How can resistance training help?
Resistance training to prevent osteoporosis: Regular weight-bearing exercise in children and teenagers helps produce strong bones; in adults it helps to maintain bone mass; after menopause it can be part of an overall treatment plan that aims to slow the rate of bone loss; and in adults over 65 years physical activity can be used to both reduce the rate of bone loss and avoid injury to bones by improving muscle strength and balance. The strength of your bones also determines the type of exercise that is appropriate and safe for your bones.
Certain types of resistance training have been shown to minimize the loss in BMD, and in some research studies to even produce an increase in BMD. This is beneficial for both the prevention and the treatment of osteoporosis.
If you already have osteoporosis or other medical conditions and have not exercised regularly, speak to a professional about designing an exercise program that is suitable for you.
The best types of exercise for decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis are:
Exercises such as swimming and cycling help improve cardiovascular fitness and build muscle strength, but are not as effective at preventing osteoporosis as weight-bearing exercise. So if you are already swimming or cycling regularly but not doing any other forms of exercise, you should consider adding weight-bearing and/or resistance exercise to your weekly routine.
Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Resistance training helps improve your bone health by putting strain on the bones, which helps make them stronger. As your body adapts you will need to increase the resistance to continue to improve bone strength. There is some evidence indicating that progressing to heavier resistances is most effective in preventing the loss of an increasing BMD.
Doing a program of resistance exercises 2-3 times per week has been shown to help maintain and even increase bone mineral density in women who have gone through menopause. Resistance training also helps to build up and maintain muscle mass, which helps reduce the risk of falls.
Resistance Training For All
Since the prevention of osteoporosis is a far better strategy than trying to reverse it, all adults should undertake regular weight-bearing and/or resistance training regardless of their age. In young people this will help to increase their BMD to higher peak levels, which will then reduce the risk of it declining to osteoporotic levels later in life. Continuing with this exercise throughout your life will minimize the decline in BMD that occurs with age and further reduce the risk of osteoporosis in old age.
Not sure where to start or what program to run? That’s where I come in! Let me help you get started in your fitness journey with a safe, effective resistance training program tailored to your body and your goals.
If having someone in your corner every step of the way in training, nutrition and mindset sounds like something you would greatly benefit from then take 2 minutes and click the link below to fill out an application for a 15 minute coaching call with me.
Where we will discuss your goals in great detail and find out if we would make a great fit to work together.
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Kayli is a certified personal trainer and online coach that specializes in fitness, wellness, nutrition, mindset, mobility and everything in between.