I've been in the health and fitness industry for over 20 year and I've seen many fads come and go. When I started my personal training business back in the 1990s women had many misconceptions about weight lifting. I cannot tell how many times I heard my female clients say "I don't want to lift weights because I don't want big muscles!" Well, that concept is changing today as women are starting to realize the benefits of strength training to their overall health and well-being especially when it comes to preventing osteoporosis and low bone density.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease of the skeletal system characterized by gradual loss of bone mineral density that leads to fragile bones and an increased risk of fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans probably have osteoporosis, and another 24 million have low bone density or a condition called osteopenia which places them at a high risk for developing the disease.
An interesting fact that most people don't know is that the conditions of their bones essentially parallels the condition of their muscles. Thus, weak muscle are associated with weak bones and strong muscles are associated with strong bones. Therefore, osteoporosis is a condition that can be greatly mitigated by strength training also known as weight lifting.
Strength training is the most effective way to build muscle size and strength. As muscles become stronger in response to weight lifting, bones also improve in strength. Research that has investigated this relationship show that strength training can help maintain or increase bone mineral density in both men and women over the age of 50. More importantly, studies have shown significant increases in bone mineral density at the spine and the neck of the femur which is are common areas of fractures in older adults.
Results from a Tufts University study involving women ages 50 to 70 who engaged in a full year of strength training showed a 1 percent increase in bone mineral desnity in the lumbar spine and femoral neck, whereas those who did not train experienced a 2 percent decline. Also, the women who strength trained experienced a 3 pound increase in muscle while those who did not lost 1 pound of muscle.
As you can see, there is convincing evidence that strength training can produce positive changes in bone mineral density that help provide some degree of protection from osteoporosis. So, if you want strong bones work on developing strong muscles.