Healthy Tahoe: Strength train for stronger bones

Kyler Crouse

Slips and spills are common with the active lifestyle of Lake Tahoe residents. However, for people with osteoporosis, falling down can lead to broken bones, impacting mobility and independence. Whether you are at risk for osteoporosis, or you enjoy an active lifestyle, there are ways to keep your bones healthy so you can continue doing what you love for years to come.

Kyler Crouse

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density—or bone mass—over time. Millions of Americans live with osteoporosis and many become injured as a result; about one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. The disease causes an estimated two million broken bones in the U.S. every year.

Peak bone mass happens for most before age 29, so exercise to strengthen bones is important beginning around this age. Weight bearing activities, including strength training, are proven to prolong bone health and slow the decline of bone mass. Certain types of exercise strengthen muscles and bones, while other types are designed to improve your balance—which can help prevent falls.

While the specific activities will depend on your health and ability level, a healthcare professional may recommend various types of weight bearing to combat weakening bones. Those may include high-impact (jumping, gymnastics, tennis), low impact (elliptical machine, walking, cross-country skiing) and muscle-strengthening (weight training, Pilates, yoga).

Bone is similar to muscle in that it can increase in size and quality when the proper amount of stress is applied, causing the bone to become stronger. This sweet spot in bone strengthening is called minimum essential strain. The force needed to reach minimal essential strain is roughly one-tenth of the force required to cause a fracture.

Depending on the individual, anything from heavy weighted squats to simply squatting from a seated position from a chair will be enough to fulfill minimum essential strain. These exercises encourage bone growth in younger individuals and help prevent the decline of bone mass and bone density in older individuals.

Calcium and Vitamin D are also critical to bone health. Calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones, teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. The body cannot produce calcium; it must be absorbed through food. Vitamin D is important for good bone health because it aids in the absorption and utilization of calcium.

You can prevent osteoporosis, bone loss, and fractures with strength training. Speak with your care provider to determine which weight bearing activities are best for you, and get started on an exercise program to maintain your active lifestyle for years to come.

Kyler Crouse is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. He specializes in athletic performance training and offers individualized training and exercise programs to the Lake Tahoe community. To meet with Kyler and get started on an exercise program that fits your needs, visit or call 530-600-1976.

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