If you’re putting in mile after mile on the treadmill, you might want to consider another exercise to add into your health routine: weight lifting. This activity can help you get in shape and it’s also been found that weight lifting for bone health can be extremely beneficial.
By Basic Spine Staff
People tend to think that pumping iron is solely for building massive muscles or is especially reserved for young men. It’s because of this thought that thousands of people are missing out the huge benefits that weight lifting provides for bone health – especially for women and the elderly.
Many scientific studies over the course of 10 years have shown that weight lifting helps increase bone density, which is extremely important for us as we age. Osteoporosis is a major health problem that causes approximately 1.5 millions fractures in the United States annually in those who are 50 years and older. Since osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass, it only makes sense to directly combat that through a healthy lifestyle! This is where weightlifting comes in.
The Science Behind It
Weight lifting has been proven to have a direct and positive relationship with increased bone density – so it doesn’t only prevent bone loss, but can also help build new bone. The muscles in our body help support the bone, and as we age, lean muscle mass naturally diminishes.
This leaves our bones without strong support, weakening them and leaving us at risk for bone fractures. The spine and hips are the two most commonly affected areas, especially in postmenopausal women.
If you have never touched a pair of dumbbells, weight lifting can be intimidating. It can be even scarier if you’re a woman doing what has traditionally been thought of as a “man’s activity”. But just remember that everyone – even the pros – have started with a blank slate too, and it’s never too late to put your health in check!
For first time weightlifters, working with a personal trainer who can help walk you through the best exercises and guide proper weightlifting form is key. However, starting at home with a small weight set is also a good option before working your way up to heavier weights at the gym. Some of the best basic exercises to start with include: squats, lunges, step ups, bicep curls, tricep extensions, military press, and bench press.
If you are a woman that’s concerned about what amount of weight to use, set those worries aside. It’s perfectly fine to use heavy weights just as it is fine to use lighter weights. It all depends on your own personal goals for your body, and it’s nearly impossible to “accidentally” achieve a look you didn’t intend for. Simply do what feels best for your body and your goals.
The Additional Benefits
While any kind of physical activity is better than no activity, there are definite upsides to weight training. Not only does it increase lean muscle mass and bone density, but it also increases the body’s metabolism which is key for managing your weight. In fact, as your muscles repair themselves, your body will continue to burn calories even while resting in between workouts.
If you’re interested in strong bones, better spine health, getting closer to that sculpted body, and the ability to burn more calories during exercise (and even at rest), then you should scoot off the treadmill and step into the free weight section of your gym.
As always, with any form of exercise, it is best to consult a healthcare professional who can advise the best types and rigor of physical activity for you. Our experienced staff of spine physicians and physical therapists at BASIC Spine can assist you with any bone health concerns and can get you started on the right workout plan for you.