Study compares interventions for increasing bone density:  jumping versus strength training


A study concluded that impact loading (jumping) was safe intervention to help middle-aged and elderly men maintain their bone  density. However, compliance - getting the subjects to jump regularly - posed a problem.  In the study 42 men aged 50 to 74 were assigned to three different groups. One group lifted weights for the upper body. The second group also lifted weights and did a high dose of impact loading jumping 80 times.  The third group lifted weights and jumped 40 times.

Result1: “This study indicates that while impact-loading exercise can be safely undertaken in middle-aged and older men, the current combined program did not elicit significant improvements in bone mineral density”.

It is interesting to note that the high-dose jumpers had a 53% compliance rate; the moderate-dose jumpers had a 65% compliance rate.  74-year-olds aren’t given to repetitive jumping for good reason.  The more often you jump the risk of injury goes up.  This is especially true as we age, as our bodies are not as resilient.

There are safer options to effectively stimulate improvement of lower-body bone mineral density besides jumping.  Strength training both the upper and lower body is a safer alternative to potentially dangerous lower-body impact loading. At our Austin TX Personal Trainers and New Orleans Personal Trainers locations to increase strength we use MedX rehabilitation exercise equipment and a protocol that is gentler on the joints.  The body adapts to the demands placed on it.  Stronger muscles generating more force will require stronger connective tissue and bones.  One of our clients increased her bone density one standard deviation following our program.

For women to decrease mortality risk: lift weights like your life depends on it

A study followed 750 women aged 50-94 years for a decade.  Researchers wanted to see the effect of changes in bone mineral density (BMD) and appendicular lean mass (ALM) on mortality. The study found that deaths increased as BMD and ALM diminished irrespective of age.

A quote from the study, Musculoskeletal decline and mortality: prospective data from the Geelong Osteoporosis Study:

“Poor musculoskeletal health increased the risk for mortality independent of age. This appears to be driven mainly by a decline in bone mass. Low lean mass independently exacerbated mortality risk, and this appeared to operate through poor health exposures.”

Another study had a similar result. The takeaway: Lift weights like your life depends on it. At Austin Personal Training and New Orleans Fitness Trainers we have had success with clients who have increased their bone density and lean muscle mass.

There is a catch: how to stress the musculoskelatal system sufficiently to stimulate improvements in muscle mass and bone density, and at the same time, avoid injuries.  We use MedX equipment. The equipment has special medical-rehab features that make exercise easier on the joints. It allows us the work the body sufficiently to stimulate improvments while sparing the joints.

Got Sarcopenia? If you are over forty you have it

The term sarcopenia has not been in common usage for very long (see graph), but the condition has been around forever.  Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle tissue that occurs as a natural part of the aging process. According to this article, Why You're Aging Ungracefully, there are two things we can do to help maintain our muscle as we age - lift weights and eat high-quality protein.

A quote from the article:

Sarcopenia begins naturally in the 4th and 5th decades of life, making your 40s and 50s an ideal time to increase dietary protein and weight training, but even those in their 60s and beyond can benefit."

Another quote: "The stronger you are, the more muscle you have, the less likely you are to become sick or die."  

It is a pretty simple equation: the more muscle you have the less likely you are to die. That is because muscle positively affects so many of the bio-markers of aging. There are bio-markers we cannot influence by exercise such as hearing loss or graying hair, but there is a long list of bio-markers we can change most effectively by strength training. People are not generally placed in nursing homes because they are out of breath; it is because they are too weak to carry out daily activities on their own.

At our Austin Fitness Training facility we use MedX equipment with its special medical rehab features. We can accommodate those with limiting conditions and can work with people of any age. One of our trainers has four clients in their 80s, and our oldest client was 95. Strength training can add years of vitality to your life. It is never too late to start.

More articles on aging here.

Reverse Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle with Resistance Exercise

From this study Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle:

"Healthy older adults show evidence of mitochondrial impairment and muscle weakness, but that this can be partially reversed at the phenotypic level, and substantially reversed at the transcriptome level, following six months of resistance exercise training.”

In layman's terms: “Before exercise training, older adults were 59% weaker than younger, but after six months of training in older adults, strength improved significantly such that they were only 38% lower than young adults.”

Strength effects not only how young we look, but more importantly, how we young we feel. Strength training reverses many of the bio-markers of aging. This does not require hours in the gym. With high intensity strength training you can work the whole body in less than one half hour, and it only need be performed once or twice a week to see continuing results. Your life can be transformed in just minutes a week with the right exercise program.

We have such a strength training program at both our locations - New Orleans Personal Trainers and Austin Personal Trainers. A little strength training, an active lifestyle, and better eating choices is a program most people can stick to, and it can have profound effects on one's fitness and health.