As women age, most of us know that the risk of bone fracture is significantly higher. This is especially true if women don’t take steps to improve their bone health and prevent injury.
Candace Gorby, athletic trainer with Kettering Sports Medicine, shares that much of her work revolves around educating women about how to improve bone health. Specifically, she and a nutritionist work together to help women develop better nutritional and exercise habits. “For most of the women I work with, a really big missing piece is that they’ve never tried resistance or strength training before,” Candace says.
“Our body will do what we demand it to do,” she continues. “Weight training is a huge way that women can build strength in their connective tissue and bone density. For women who are working on building bone strength, I recommend 30 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of walking five times per week.”
What if I’ve never lifted weights before?
Women who are new to weight training commonly feel a bit intimidated and don’t know where to start. For these women, Candace recommends finding a professional to work with who is experienced in helping women with osteoporosis. “Working with a professional can help you learn to exercise safely,” Candace says. The other key piece of advice is to start with simple bodyweight movements—bodyweight squats or modified push-ups are common examples. “A professional can also help teach you how to use weight machines so that you’re in a safe and fixed position,” Candace says.
A lot of women have a misconception that weight training means having a barbell on your back or “bulking up.” “This really isn’t anything to be afraid of,” Candace says. “The benefit of resistance training is much greater than any type of body change.”
What if I’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis?
Women should start building bone strength early in life, by exercising regularly, following a nutritious diet, avoiding smoking, and getting enough calcium and vitamin D. But what if a woman has already been diagnosed with a condition?
Weight training can still help. “The majority of my patients are women in their 50s and 60s who have already been diagnosed with osteopenia,” says Candace. “And many of them, after working together, not only see that their osteopenia is not worsening, but that it’s actually improving.” Candace recommends that all women learn about resistance training and start incorporating these types of exercise into a routine. “No matter your age, your current bone health, or your fears, it’s never too late to get started.”