How to get your bone strength back
People often take for granted that bones weaken as we age. But researchers have found a dependable way to keep bones strong and restore their strength even if you’ve already lost some of it.
Research at the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that the right kind of weight-lifting exercises and certain jumping workouts, done over the course of six months, can tighten up bone density and increase your bone mass.
The researchers believe these exercises can ward off osteoporosis (bone weakening) and significantly stimulate new bone growth in the middle-aged.
The study was performed on middle-aged men – a group whose bone problems as they grow older are often overlooked. According to the scientists about 2 million men currently suffer from osteoporosis (serious bone-thinning) and another 16 million have weakened bones that are on their way to osteoporosis. But according to advice offered by The American College of Sports Medicine, women can increase their bone health with this type of exercise too.
“Weight-lifting programs exist to increase muscular strength, but less research has examined what happens to bones during these types of exercises,” says researcher Pam Hinton. “Our study is the first to show that exercise-based interventions work to increase bone density in middle-aged men with low bone mass who are otherwise healthy. These exercises could be prescribed to reverse bone loss associated with aging.”
To make individual bones stronger, the researchers advise stressing the particular bones you want to improve. Consequently, they had their study subjects do squats, deadlifts, lunges and overhead presses. These exercises put a load on the hip and spine, areas that are especially vulnerable to fractures when bones weaken with age.
The best way to learn how to do these exercises is to engage a personal trainer who can check your form and make sure you are doing the lifts correctly. To avoid common mistakes while doing squats and lunges, look here. It’s also not a good idea to these types of exercise is you already have osteoporosis, but only as a preventative.
The researchers had people do weight lifting exercises for one to two hours a week and had their subjects take vitamin D and calcium supplements to help their bones grow.
Plus, they think it is important for people to take a week off from resistance exercises now and then to give their bones a chance to strengthen and catch up with the new stresses being put on them.
For me, taking weeks off might be the most difficult part of this type of program. My problem is that I’m a bit of an exercise addict and I usually do my weight-lifting exercises three or four times a week. That’s why I get too many overuse injuries.
But this kind of study sheds some more light on exercise’s remarkable benefits. So if you’re not doing any exercise, get going now before your bones are too weak to benefit.