Low bone mineral density increases fracture risk, especially
in the larger bones of the hip and upper leg. Older individuals
who suffer a hip fracture often lose their independence and
face an increased risk of death in the year following their
injury. Seniors can strengthen their bones, however, by stimulating
bone growth through weight training.
compare the effectiveness of two exercise regimens focused
on increasing bone density, the authors of a study in a recent
edition of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
examined over 60 seniors (average age: 68 years) for bone
mineral density. The individuals were then divided into three
groups: no exercise, low-intensity exercise (sets of 13 repetitions
using moderate weight), or high-intensity exercise (sets of
eight repetitions using heavier weight). Exercise groups performed
12 resistance exercises three times per week for six months.
Bone density was re-evaluated at the end of the study using
scans of the hip, femur, and spine.
Muscular strength increased significantly in both groups
(approximately 17% average for each group) and remained unchanged
in the no-exercise group. Yet only the high-intensity exercise
group showed significant bone density increases in their upper
One of the best ways elderly individuals can increase their
bone strength is by performing high-intensity resistance exercises
of eight repetitions, using 80% of their maximum weight potential.
Those who are unable to lift a high percentage of their body
weight should use lighter weights and add more repetitions.
To learn more about senior health, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/senior.html.
Vincent KR, Braith RW. Resistance exercise and bone turnover
in elderly men and women. Medicine and Science in Sports
and Exercise 2002:34(1), pp. 17-23.