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The buzz about bones!

A Punch look at the impact of weight training on bone density

For some reason, bone density has been on peoples’ minds lately. The benefits of exercise to help strengthen and protect bones and prevent osteoporosis-related fractures is a hot topic, with a heightened awareness that what we do for our bodies today can do wonders for our bodies as we age – there is a cumulative effect. In our gym I hear our Peeps talking about it quite a lot, and so it seemed like a good topic for this newsletter.
Of course, as I’m immersed in Chiropractic studies and look to mesh my learning with the workouts we develop at Punch, this is on my mind a lot. We take a holistic approach to training – strength, yes, but overall wellness through physical fitness is the health outcome goal. The dimensions of physical activity are often collectively referred to as FITT – frequency, intensity, time and type. Exercise represents a sub-category of this; physical activity in a planned, structured, repetitive and purposeful way. Improving bone density is but one of the outcomes, and that’s what we focus on in this article.
While done correctly, most all exercise is good for you, however the outcomes may differ. Most all physical activity can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, yet non-impact activities such as swimming and cycling, for example, rarely augment bone mineral density (BMD). 
It’s proven that strength training over time can help prevent bone loss, an otherwise inevitable deterioration over time – and may even help build new bone! In a program that studies post-menopausal women, strength training for a year yielded significant increases in their bone density in the spine and hips, areas affected most by osteoporosis in older women. As we age, the emphasis of exercise should switch gradually from bone loading to muscle loading in order to improve overall strength and coordination, as well as density.
However, for most people and pre-menopausal women, the focus is on maintaining BMD rather than increasing it; yet high-intensity exercise can lead to modest bone development in some key areas of the body. Even small increases in bone mineral can help avoid fracture later in life – in essence, a good exercise program pays dividends both now and in the future.
These are essentially gravity-induced impact exercises and come in two categories: high-impact and low-impact. You’ll note that here at Punch we strategically build our classes and programs to integrate the two.
High-impact weight-bearing exercises
With these, we help build bones and keep them strong. These can be done with high intensity, or just by doing many of the physical activities you may think are actually just for fun. Examples: High-impact aerobics, dancing, hiking, jogging/running, stair climbing, tennis, basketball, jumping rope and so much more.
Low-impact weight-bearing exercises
For the most part, these are similar to the above, but with lower intensity. They may also be done on machines and/or in environments where the gravitational impact is reduced, and may include using elliptical machines, stair-step machines, low-impact aerobics, fast walking on a treadmill or outside, etc.
These are activities, or “resistance exercises,” where you move your body and/or a weight, or some other resistance, against gravity. Along with the weight-bearing activities noted above, at Punch we incorporate weight to strengthen muscles at the same time, including lifting weights, swinging bells, elastic bands, body weight, and functional movements. 
Perhaps your motivation to exercise is to look good. Maybe it’s because it makes you feel good. Maybe it’s more practical – to stay healthy, or just to be able to comfortably fit in your clothes. Whatever the reason, the way we design our classes will help you achieve those goals and can provide benefits you may not even be considering, such as building your bone density mass.  High impact or low impact – your hard work at Punch can have a positive impact now and – as importantly -- into the future.