Why is strength training a ‘must’ for the Over 50 crowd? Your bones will love it, and it will help you build bone density.
As we age, we lose bone density. This is the reason for so many fractures and broken bones among the elderly. Poor bone density is often associated with a high probability of fractures. That can lead to high medical costs, and affect your ability to live independently later on in life. It could even be the cause of an early death.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept bone density loss as an unavoidable part of getting older. There are some steps you can take to avoid it and keep your bones strong. The easiest way to build your bone density is to do strength training.
When you do strength training by lifting weights or even your own body weight to start off with, your muscles are challenged to pull on their bony attachments. That stimulates bone formation. So, if you want to increase your bone mass in one particular area, you need to do exercises that work muscles attached to that bone.
To build bone with your strength-training exercises, you will need to work at a certain intensity. Studies have shown that not all strength training will stimulate bone growth. You should work a muscle to fatigue, meaning you can’t lift anymore, after about 8 to 10 repetitions. So, you will need to use a weight that is heavy enough to fatigue your muscle after that amount of lifting. It is recommended to work your muscles two to three times a week to continue building bone.
Over time, you will notice that you get stronger and that your muscles don’t fatigue as easily. That means it’s time to increase the resistance. In other words, it’s time to add more weight to what you’re lifting. Gradually increase the amount of weight you lift.
There are certain types of exercises you can do to build bone density in specific areas.
- If you want to stimulate bone growth in the hips, try free weights. These appear to stimulate bone growth in that area, probably because of weight bearing. Building up bone in your hips now can protect you from broken a hip later on in life.
- If you want to increase bone density in your spine, you might want to use either free weights or exercise machines.
An exercise professional can help you design a program that will target the muscles you need to work to build the bone you want. You will want to pay special attention to the hips, wrists and spine, since those are all common osteoporosis fracture sites.
Loss of bone density has long been thought to be a normal part of aging. By including strength training in your fitness routine, you can keep your bones strong and stay healthy and independent as you age.
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