Monday, July 14, 2003

Weight training helps women with osteoporosis



By Dave Patania
Personal trainer

Question: My mother has osteoporosis, and she said that her doctors mentioned that weight training might help her condition, but I disagree. How can lifting weights do anything other than worsen her condition?

Answer: Thanks for this question because there is someone I want to tell you about.

About four years ago, I worked with a client who is in her 60s and who was classified as being in an advanced stage of osteoporosis. When I first went to her house to show her some basic moves to help strengthen her muscle groups, it was an experience to say the least. I was showing her the most basic of moves, and she could barely do any of them, due to her low strength levels, the fact that she had never done them before, and because she wasn't too sure it was safe for her to be doing them.

She started lifting weights as light as 21/2 pounds, and you would have thought she was attempting to lift 100-pound barbells. I kept things simple and really worked with her on performing each exercise with strict form and technique. To check her strength levels, I had her do a modified version of a push-up. She couldn't do one repetition and became very frustrated.

However, she worked very hard and was very consistent with her workouts. Just a year later, the "no push-ups" turned into 15-20 push-ups and she was doing all kinds of different strength moves with perfect form. Four years later, she is lifting weights that she would never had imagined attempting when she first started. I am very proud of her.

Strength training is not a cure for osteoporosis, and it has not been shown to replace the amount of bone mineral loss.

There is some research that suggests that weight training may help slow the rate of mineral loss, which is quite encouraging. What strength training does do is strengthen the muscles/connective tissues that support the body, increase blood flow to the muscles/bones and increase balance/coordination.

Having better balance and coordination is key because it helps improve reaction times and responses to falls and accidents that severely injure people with this condition.

Have your mother start out slowly, and work with a qualified instructor who knows how to teach proper form and technique. If she has an open mind and works hard, she will reap the same benefits my former client did.

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Contact personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail: davpatania@aol.com.

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Weight training helps women with osteoporosis
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