Improve Bone Density, Strength & Balance with Weight Lifting
The slow and controlled lifting of weights will increase bone density and make your muscles stronger.
Studies have shown that strength training over a period of time can prevent bone loss – and even help to build new bone.
Yes, weight training for osteoporosis, not just walking or doing aerobics, but lifting weights can help protect the bones and prevent osteoporosis-related fractures.
The advice is to try and do regular weight training on three days a week but not on consecutive days – obviously to give your body a chance to rest and recover in between weight lifting sessions.
What if you don’t like to train with heavy weights?
Then, you can achieve good results if you use light weights but with a lot of repetitions. This method can be especially helpful for many older people.
Resistance training improves bone density by putting “stress on bones” which is why heavier weights with fewer repetitions are typically recommended for bone and muscle benefits. But if such training is not suitable for all, then a switch to lighter weights with plenty of repetition is fine.
Training at home or training under supervision?
Many health clubs offer such weight lifting training classes, or you can do a similar workout at home using hand weights or bars.
There are other ways you can carry out high-impact weight-bearing
- Doing high-impact aerobics
- Jumping rope
- Stair climbing
Low impact weight-bearing exercises
These can also help keep bones strong and are a safe alternative if you cannot do high-impact exercises and examples include:
- Using elliptical training machines
- Doing low-impact aerobics
- Using stair-step machines
- Fast walking on a treadmill or outside
Apart from weight-lifting above, these exercises include those where you move your body or some other resistance against gravity, using elastic exercise bands, lifting your own body weight as well as functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes. Yoga and Pilates can also improve strength, balance and flexibility although certain positions may not be safe for people with osteoporosis or those at increased risk of broken bones. In such cases, it is advised that a physical therapist will assist with those exercises that are safe and appropriate.
The UK are joining in the call for weightlifting
Recent advice has been issued here in the UK from the Chief Medical Officer saying that “Weightlifting could be key to offsetting the natural decline in muscle mass and bone density. Adults should do weight lifting sessions, or use resistance machines, at least twice a week to develop and maintain strength in the major muscle groups.”
- Heavy gardening, carrying heavy shopping or young children can also count towards weekly exercise goals.
- Exercises should be repeated until the muscles feel temporarily “tired out” and unable to repeat until rested.
- Bone density and muscle mass declines naturally from the age of 50, and is believed to be a central reason why older people can lose the ability to carry out daily tasks.
- The guidelines suggest those aged 65 and above should focus on activities to help improve or maintain muscle strength and balance, like Tai Chi, bowls or dancing.
Improving balance could help people avoid falls, the main reason older people go to the ER.