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may reverse age-related bone loss in middle-age
Men gradually lose bone mass as they age, which puts them
at risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition that
makes bones weak and prone to breakage. Nearly 2 million
men in the U.S. have the condition, and 16 million more
have low bone mass, studies have shown. Now, University of
Missouri researchers have found that certain types of
weight-lifting and jumping exercises, when completed for
at least six months, improve bone density in active,
healthy, middle-aged men with low bone mass. These
exercises may help prevent osteoporosis by facilitating
bone growth, according to the study published in Bone.
"Weight-lifting programs exist to increase muscular
strength, but less research has examined what happens to
bones during these types of exercises," said Pam Hinton,
an associate professor and the director of nutritional
sciences graduate studies in the MU Department of
Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. "Our study is the first
to show that exercise-based interventions work to increase
bone density in middle-aged men with low bone mass who are
otherwise healthy. These exercises could be prescribed to
reverse bone loss associated with aging."
The researchers found the bone mass of the whole body and
lumbar spine significantly increased after six months of
completing the weight-lifting or jumping programs, and
this increase was maintained at 12 months. Hip-bone
density only increased among those who completed the
"Only the bone experiencing the mechanical load is going
to get stronger, so we specifically chose exercises that
would load the hip and the spine, which is why we had
participants do squats, deadlifts, lunges and the overhead
press," Hinton said. "Also, the intensity of the loading
needs to increase over time to build strength. Both of the
training programs gradually increased in intensity, and
our participants also had rest weeks. Bones need to rest
to continue to maximize the response."
"Individuals don't typically have to know they have heart
disease, high blood pressure or prediabetes to start
exercising - they do it as prevention," Hinton said.
"Similarly, individuals don't have to know they have
osteoporosis to start lifting weights. The interventions
we studied are effective, safe and take 60-120 minutes per
week to complete, which is feasible for most people. Also,
the exercises can be done at home and require minimal
exercise equipment, which adds to the ease of implementing
and continuing these interventions."