Bone and muscles contribute to the structural integrity of the human body. Although your bones are the toughest parts of your body, it can get affected by aging-related changes too. Bone loss is a natural process that lowers the density and mineralization of your bones as you age.
Postmenopausal women and aging men are both prone to osteoporosis. This can make your bones more fragile and prone to breakage. On the bright side, its density can be increased by following an exercise routine meticulously.
Effect Of Exercise On Bone Strength
Despite the way they look, bones are very much alive. Osteoblasts are the bone-forming cells in a bone. They bring calcium to the bone and help in laying down the new bone matrix. Several scientific studies have proven that exercise can increase the rate at which new bone formation occurs.
Sedentary lifestyle decreases the activity of osteoblasts which eventually weakens bones with age. Therefore any form of exercise is mandatory for the health of your bones. A majority of people follow an aerobic or resistance training exercise as a part of their fitness routine.
Running is one of the most popular aerobic exercises and weightlifting is often practiced as a part of resistance training. Nonetheless, many health-conscious individuals are still not clear of how differently running or lifting weights can impact their skeletal system.1
Impact Of Running On Bone Density
Bones are sturdy in nature but capable of undergoing growth like any other living tissue. The bones involved in running are subjected to external stresses continuously which increases the rate of bone formation by osteoblasts. This process is also known as bone remodeling and particularly strengthens the bones of the lower limbs, pelvis, spine, and arms.
Scientific studies have found that the way you run also influences the increase in bone density. People who run on flat surfaces didn’t show a great improvement in their bone density in comparison to inactive people. On the other hand, if you have a running session that involved going uphill, you challenge more muscle groups due to intense aerobic activity. This, in turn, stresses your bones paving way for quicker bone remodeling and strengthening.2
Lift Weights For Stronger Bones
Strength training with weights on the other hands exclusively focuses on your bones, joints, and muscles. Several scientific researchers have found that weightlifting exercises have the capacity to offset any age-related decrease in bone density which can lead to osteoporosis.
As far as bones are concerned, the ones you use will get stronger and the ones you don’t use get weaker due to wasting. Lifting weights with or without equipment subject bones to experience a progressive increase in stress which helps them to adapt and strengthen with time.
Strength training not only increases the mineral density of bones but also boosts muscle growth. Every time you lift a weight that’s 4–8 times more than your body weight, you are promoting new bone formation inadvertently thereby lowering the risk of bone loss.3
The Verdict: Combine Running And Weight Lifting
It’s best to have a bit of both in your weekly fitness routine so that your bones get enough time to adapt. Daily aerobic exercise is still fine but daily weightlifting without taking a rest day will make you vulnerable to injuries. Therefore, follow a strength training routine that involves weight lifting with squats, lunges, and step-ups at least 3 or 4 times in a week.
Rest of the week, you can run uphill to enhance your cardiovascular and skeletal health. Therefore, it’s safe to say that both running and weight training can hugely benefit your quality of life as you age. Stronger muscles will keep you active, coordinated, flexible and free from injuries.
This makes you less likely to fall which is the major cause of fracture in older adults. Even if you do have a tumble by some stroke of bad luck, your bones will be resilient enough to sustain the impact without breaking!
|↑1||Moreira, Linda Denise Fernandes, Mônica Longo de Oliveira, Ana Paula Lirani-Galvão, Rosângela Villa Marin-Mio, Rodrigo Nolasco dos Santos, and Marise Lazaretti-Castro. “Physical exercise and osteoporosis: effects of different types of exercises on bone and physical function of postmenopausal women.” Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia 58, no. 5 (2014): 514-522.|
|↑2||Boudenot, Arnaud, Zahra Achiou, and Hugues Portier. “Does running strengthen bone?.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 40, no. 12 (2015): 1309-1312.|
|↑3||Shanb, Alsayed A., and Enas F. Youssef. “The impact of adding weight-bearing exercise versus nonweight bearing programs to the medical treatment of elderly patients with osteoporosis.” Journal of family & community medicine 21, no. 3 (2014): 176.|