Harvard Men's Health Watch

Strength training is better for bones

Strength training preserves bone health better than walking, according to a report in Osteoporosis International. Researchers reviewed studies of the effect of exercise on bone strength. Men participated in weight-bearing exercise, such as regular walking, or resistance training, such as working with weights or elastic exercise bands. One study involved "impact loading" exercises, like skipping rope. The review compared the effects of these exercises on bone strength in the hip or lower spine—two places vulnerable to fractures because of age-related bone loss. Resistance training, alone or combined with impact-loading exercise, strengthened bones best. In comparison, weight-bearing exercise (walking) alone had less of an effect. Walking has proven benefits for heart health and overall physical fitness. But activities that exert more force—like working with free weights or strength-training machines—produce greater improvement in bone strength.

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