Weight training for healthy bones

Weight training for healthy bonesMy aunt had recently been diagnosed with osteopenia and had been advised by her doctor to take up some weight resistance exercises. She was surprised and said so, when she called me. I told her that indeed, it was true and she had no other way than to take up some form of weight training. She hates exercises, but is active enough with her gardening and other activities that her condition was only a mild one.

It is important for youngsters to take up weight training, as it not only aids in losing fat and muscle building, but also boosts sleep and your mood, in addition to increased bone density. I usually do workouts that combine both cardio and resistance training. For a good cardio workout, I use my mmajiu-jitsu dummy, which is more fun than the regular cardio routine. I do weight training at least three times a week and when time permits on the other days too. Keeping your body fit when you are younger would certainly help you when you age. Here is what I found about bone density and weight training.

Bone strength

How strong you are determines your level of independence as you age. Hip fractures, according to statistics are a significant cause for admissions in nursing homes. I’m sure this will convince you to take up weight lifting.

Bone density, which is actually bone mineral density, is analyzed using a scan similar to X-ray called as DEXA scan. While the measurements of wrist and other parts of the body are included, the density is mainly assessed from the measurements taken form hip and spine.  The results are compared with the normal range. Osteopenia, which my aunt had, is actually a mild form of reduced level of bone density. In more severe cases where you get a highly depleted density, the condition is termed as osteoporosis. The risk level of fracture increases with the lowered bone density.

Risk of low bone density

Weight training for healthy bonesIt has been found that thin women and post-menopausal women have highest osteoporosis rates. Estrogen, which is a strong bone-building hormone, reduces after menopause increasing the risk largely. Taking up weight lifting exercise is very important for both men and women. Normally women do not lift weights and go for the cardio workouts only. Even in my BJJ classes where participants train with the grappling dummy (click here to see awesome dummies), I see more boys than girls. Martial art is actually very beneficial for all round development and both boys and girls should be motivated to take part, so they maintain a healthy and fit life even in old age.

Bone density and men

Men who have low levels of testosterone are also at increased risk of lowered bone density. Testosterone has a positive influence on density of bone directly and indirectly via its change to estrogen. Moreover, people who take steroids such as cortisone and prednisone are also at high risk.

Even if you do not fall in the high-risk category, it helps to strengthen your bones as the higher the density, the lesser negative impact you will attract.