12 Aug 2019
Many gym-goers are aware of the positive effect that strength training has on bone strength and density but just as many experienced athletes are unaware of exactly how important it can be. A little known fact to the layperson is that bone is a very active tissue, constantly being broken down and replaced.
To grossly simplify things, this process is governed within the body by cells known as osteoclasts (which break down and remove mature bone tissue) and osteoblasts (the rebuilders) in processes known as resorption and ossification respectively.
To highlight just how active bone tissue. The average person’s entire skeleton is replaced roughly every 10 years and it is estimated that if your osteoblasts were to stop working you would suffer from stress fractures in as little as three to four days.
Bone health (bone strength) and density can be influenced by genetics, disease, smoking status, use of certain medications and, of course, nutritional status plays a huge role as well. Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D appear to be the nutritional elements most required in the resorption and ossification processes but exercise and physical activity (particularly load-bearing activities) are also critically important. This isn’t a concern reserved solely for the elderly or those at risk of osteoporosis or osteomalacia as is sometimes assumed.
Studies on individuals who choose swimming as their sole form of exercise have found them to have a bone mineral density (bone strength) no greater than that of sedentary individuals and similar observations have been made in the upper bodies of individuals who choose cycling as their sole form of exercise.
Bone reacts to the stressors placed on it and, these activities, while being excellent exercises in their own right and beneficial in many other ways, simply do not place sufficient load-bearing stress required to maintain bone density when they are performed in isolation.
Exact statistics can be controversial but with some sources claiming that 87% of people will break a bone at some point in their life and that the risk of a fracture increases exponentially with age (approximately one in two women and up to one in four men aged 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis).
It seems like a no brainer to engage in regular load-bearing physical activity to mitigate this risk in both the short and long term. One way to produce these load-bearing forces required to maintain and fortify your bone strength. Engage in a weight-bearing strength training routine.
Even moderate weight lifting exercise a couple of times per week has been shown to significantly increase bone density.
I love writing personalized programs and educating my clients on how to get the most out of their exercise routines. Fitness and flexibility training is important but doesn’t forget about the very important third eye… Strength Training.
Thanks for sharing Tom. If you are looking to kickstart your own inspirational fitness story, call Tom directly on 0437 423 242. Drop in to see the team at either Coffs Coast Health Club Toormina or Moonee, to get started today.