Improving Bone Health! is written by our team member Riley Anastasi.
Bone health has been a big topic over the past couple of years, with approximately 200 million people worldwide reported to have osteoporosis (Linhares et al., 2022). This predominantly (but not exclusively) affects woman over men, especially post-menopause. But ladies, it is not all doom and gloom! There is a lot of evidence emerging in this area and the great news is that by being part of the ALTA Fitness community you are already implementing a crucial element to your bone health – exercise!
Resistance training and impact exercises are crucial to stimulate your bones to get stronger!
Bones are obviously important for structural support and protection for our body, but they also provide a range of advantages for our muscles, immunity, and metabolism. Bones store the majority of our body’s calcium (approximately 98%), which is constantly being absorbed and replaced to ensure that our bones adapt to the demands we place on our bodies. Which is a really good thing, as we can use this to influence our body to prioritise our bone strength. We just need to provide our bodies, and our bone forming cells known as osteoblasts, with the right stimulus to prioritise bone building and strength. But how can we best do this? Through building up our working intensity over time!
An important study called the LIFTMOR Trial, explored the effect of exercise on bone mass in women (Watson et al., 2018). High bone mass generally equates to stronger bones, whilst bone mass below certain levels result in osteopenia or osteoporosis. The study compared a low-intensity program to a high intensity program over an 8-month period.
They found that the high-intensity program, training twice per week, resulted in enhanced bone strength in the lower back and hips, improved functional performance and muscle strength.
The high intensity program starting with low load exercises and built up to 85% of their one repetition maximum (1RM), for 5 sets of 5 repetitions. The participants performed exercises such as the back squat, deadlift, and overhead press; all of which we implement at ALTA Fitness in some form. Exercising at an 85% of 1RM is hard work and takes time to progress up to this intensity, but we at ALTA fitness are here to help you do it slowly and safely. This study shows that even those with low bone mass (ie. osteopenia) can still improve their bone health, we just need to progressively build up strength and intensity to remind our bone (our osteoblasts) that we want it to prioritise stronger bones. The best thing we can do for our bones is put them under load, we don’t want healthy people to avoid heavy weights because it is what our bones need!
The best way to do this is in a safe setting – such as ALTA! Performing sessions under supervision minimizes injury risk, whilst using our facility to safely utilise resistance and impact exercises to create stronger bones and a healthier you!
If bone health is important to you, chat to your trainer about tailoring your program to increase intensity and bone health.