Strength Training For All Ages


When I was growing up, my mom always told me to drink my milk because that would help me grow big and strong. Many men and women have been advised to take calcium supplements, drink milk, or eat yogurt to improve bone density and avoid its loss.  Osteoporosis is a disease process in which bone density deteriorates, resulting in increased likelihood of fractures. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men of age 50 or older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. This silent disease doesn’t cause any visible symptoms, but it can do large amounts of damage and be very costly.  Women most commonly are warned about osteoporosis as the decrease in estrogen levels with menopause causes higher rates of bone density loss. However, there are many other factors that can hasten or cause the osteoporosis disease process. Among the most common causes are breast cancer, prostate cancer, weight loss surgery, Irritable Bowel Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.  There are also many medications that cause bone density loss and you should consult your doctor if you have concerns about your medications. 

There is a less commonly talked about means to slow this disease process and maintain bone density levels.  Exercise, specifically body weight and weight training exercise, has been shown to maintain bone density as an individual ages.  The muscles in the body are connected to the bones. This means every time the body makes a movement the muscles are pulling on the bones.  When the muscles consistently pull on the bones, it sends signals to the body to add bone to that area to meet the demands of that force. Conversely, if the body is inactive, it takes bone away because it doesn’t need it.  When a person is inactive the body isn’t forced to adapt to stress, so it removes extra material including decreasing muscle mass and decreasing bone density. Think about it like decluttering a house. Why have a bunch of extra things inside that you no longer use?  That is why weights and body-weight exercises are so important to maintain strength and bone density over time. 

While calcium intake is still very important, exercise also provides the benefits of improving strength, flexibility, and balance.  This will help not only with maintaining bone density to prevent osteoporosis, but also decreases the likelihood of falling and getting a fracture. 

It is possible to start an exercise routine that includes weights at any age.  Visiting your local physical therapist at Geary Rehab for exercises to build bone density, improve balance, and increase overall strength, will help you save time and money by preventing falls that could result in fractures and hospitalization.


Matt Hoover