The human body has 206 bones that are continually renewing themselves through a process known as remodeling. Bone cells called osteoclasts break existing bone down and remove it, while osteoblasts work in the other way and are responsible for depositing new bone. A persons maximum bone density will be achieved between the ages of 20 to 30. After this point osteoclast and osteoblast activity will remain in balance until around the age of 45 to 50, when osteoclast activity will become greater and the person will start to slowly lose bone mass.
People most at risk of Osteoporosis are:
Elderly - the older an individual, the greater the risk of osteoporosis, caused by the deteriorating effects after 45 to 50.
Females - females are four times more likely than males to develop osteoporosis. This is due to the fact that they generally start with a lower peak bone mass than males, and will experience a sharp loss in bone mass following menopause.
Small Boned and Thin Women - due to a lack of bone bearing weight during their everyday lives.
Lifestyle - smoking, drinking too much alcohol, drinking more than two cups of coffee per day, performing insufficient weight bearing exercise, and a diet lacking in calcium will all increase your chances of developing osteoporosis.
To strengthen your bones you must directly target them in your workouts, making sure every part of your body is covered in your session.
Exercises chosen should be weight bearing. Swimming and cycling are great for the cardiovascular system, but they place little stress on the bones. Walking and running are good aerobic activities to perform and of course weight training provides greatest benefits.
Weight training should be performed at least twice a week to gain a benefit. Training should be specific with each bone directly involved in the session. Working the leg muscles will not provide any benefit to the upper body.
For the bone to improve its density it must be stressed beyond its normal limits. If you are performing an exercise easily then the weight you are using is too light and must be increased. The bone will only adapt to the level that it is being worked at. Many females avoid heavy weights, fearful of putting on large amounts of muscle. This fear is misplaced however as females lack certain hormones that make it very hard for them to gain muscle mass.
While it is important to build strong bones while we are young, it is never too late to start. No matter what age you are at, it is always possible to make an improvement. Weight training in the elderly will improve bone density, increase muscle mass and improve balance, reducing the risk of falling. Weight training for elderly participants differs slightly, and should start slowly and gradually build up, always remaining in a relatively comfortable zone.
Weight training should be an integral part of every persons training regime, with a minimum of two sessions per week to gain the required benefits.
Weight training is extremely important in combating the effects of osteoporosis, particularly for women and the elderly. By completing regular resistance training sessions you will be laying a foundation for stronger, healthier bones and avoiding many of the potential dangers of old age.
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