We tend to think of the bones that make up our skeletal system as our rock-solid support system. However, the bones you have today are not exactly the same bones you had yesterday. Bone is continually lost and replaced. Bone cells are absorbed, and new cells are deposited.
The comings and goings of bone cells are nearly equal, so your overall bone mass stays relatively constant. However, bones adapt to need. They respond to the stress put on them. Bones thicken when they must habitually support heavy loads. And they adapt their shape and strength to accommodate stress patterns. That’s why the bones of athletes are generally heavier than the bones of screen addicts. Your bone growth is determined by structural needs. Lifting and pushing are stresses to bones. Walking, running, lifting, and other activities, which put moderate stress on your bones, help them to get stronger.
As the years go by, continuing to bend, stretch, and push against things can help strengthen your bones. Bone strengthening isn’t limited to the young. As we age, we need to keep our bones in the best shape possible. The old brittle bone problem, which seems to be synonymous with aging in our country, isn’t necessarily inevitable. Indeed, the trend for bone loss and brittleness increases with age. That’s because the mineral content of bones (the hard part) increases, and the organic content (the elasticity and toughness part) decreases. However, studies have shown that women as old as 70 can slightly increase their bone density by lifting weights. This isn’t an overnight improvement, of course, but if you’re going to live to a vigorous old age, you may as well keep your bones as strong as possible!
For muscles and bones that have been on vacation for years, resistance, or weight training, can help strengthen them. The resistance doesn’t need to be tremendous. Weights as light as a pound give the muscles something to work against. As strength increases, the weights can be a little heavier. The objective is to put moderate stress on both muscles and bones. As you build your strength and endurance, the amount of weight “stress” can be gradually increased.
So, help strengthen your bones – dig a garden, rake leaves, clean out the garage, go for a hike! You’re never too old (or too young) to start exercising! And for more information, check out Dr. Morter’s book, Dynamic Health – Using Your Own Beliefs, Thoughts, and Memory to Create a Healthy Body.