Is Strength Training the Key to Bone Health?

Whatever words you use to describe it—weight lifting, strength training or resistance training—this form of weight-bearing exercise not only helps you lose fat and build muscle, it also is one of the best things you can do to improve your bone density.

So what happens to your bones when you lift weights? When the bone is stressed—which happens during strength training as the muscles pull on the bone—bone formation is
stimulated.

This process of building and maintaining bone density is important for many reasons. For instance:

  • Bone density can help prevent fractures
  • Bone density can help prevent osteoporosis
  • The denser your bones are, the more bone mass you can lose as you get older without suffering negative effects

Although both men and women reap rewards from strength training, women in particular can benefit from this preventative health strategy, as they have the highest rates of
osteoporosis. After menopause, the risk increases, and if a woman is thin that risk goes even higher. The reason is estrogen—a hormone that’s one of the body’s most powerful bone builders—decreases after a woman stops menstruating.

Strength-Training Exercises

Here are several exercises that focus on increasing bone density in the hips and spine—areas that are most at risk of bone loss.

  • Steps: Stand in front of the bottom step of a staircase, making sure the stair and floor are free from any loss objects. Then, hold on to the handrail and use a single leg to step up, lifting your full body weight up, hold it for a few seconds, then step down again. Perform this movement five to 10 times before switching to the other leg.
  • Marches: Attach 5-pound weights with Velcro straps to each of your ankles. Then march in place, using your thigh muscles to lift your knees one at a time.
  • Lunges: Standing with your hands on your hips, take an exaggerated step forward, so your thigh muscle supports your body weight, and hold that pose for several seconds before returning to a standing position. Alternate legs, and perform the series 5-10 times.

Need more reasons to give strength training a try? How about the fact that strength training has been shown to bring other health benefits, too, like improved sleep and a
better mood. Plus, having strong bones as you move into old age can help keep you more independent, active and enjoying a greater quality of life.

So, remember, even though you can’t see the visible results and positive effects of strength training on your bones like you can on your muscles, it’s happening—and if you
could see it, the results would be impressive. So, make the decision today to add strength training to your routine, and you’ll enjoy better health today, and into the future.