Exercise For Osteoporosis: Which type is best?

A few years ago, researchers set out to answer this question. Is one type of exercise better than another for improving bone mineral density?

This study looked at how weight bearing exercise (that is, exercise where you bear your own weight, like running, as opposed to swimming, where your weight is supported by the water) compares with resistance exercise (that is, weights).

Now we all know that weight bearing exercise is better than non weight bearing for increasing bone mineral density. There had been some studies in recent years where it was discovered that resistance exercise is also really good for bone mineral density.

Now, from memory that was particularly in older people, and the reason this is important is because sometimes weight bearing is out of the question (90 year olds aren’t great at jogging, Cliff Young being the exception to the rule), especially for people with joint problems or degeneration.

And so they get stuck in a bit of a cycle – need to do exercise to strengthen their bones, but when they try to they cause more damage…

So it’s good to have options, and it’s good that there are a couple of different types of exercise that all help increase bone mineral density. Hurrah. But which one is best? Simple – “High-impact sports, like running, appear to have a greater beneficial effect”.

But does it matter? I mean, is there much difference? Because “the results of the study confirm that both resistance training and high-impact endurance activities increase bone mineral density.”

Well, it does. Because “only the skeletal sites that experience increased stress from exercise will become stronger. For example, performing upper body resistance exercises will not increase bone mineral density of the hips.”

Take home message – a combination is probably best. You need to stimulate a body part in order to have an effect there. It’s not enough to go to the gym and pump the upper body – your legs will get no benefit from that.

So, if you’re the kind of person who suffers from too much weight bearing exercise, at least throw in some leg weights as well, or do a bit of walking in your program as well.



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