A recent study is implying that certain lifting exercises — squats, deadlifts, lunges, and the overhead press — may increase bone mass. For starters, close to 2 million men in the U.S. have osteoporosis and 16 million have low bone mass.

Published in the journal, Bone, researchers had 38 active, middle-aged men complete a weight-lifting program or a jumping program for a year. Each program had participants do 60-120 minutes of exercises each week. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation was also practiced during the training programs. Bone mass was analyzed at the beginning of the study, 6 months into it, and at the very end — X-raying the entire body, hip, and lumbar spine. 

The Findings

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Results: bone mass of the entire body and lumbar spine increased just after six months of completing both programs, and the increase was maintained at 12 months. For those who were in the weightlifiting group, it was seen that hip-bone density was the only area that increased. 

It’s important to note that certain exercises that were completed in the program helped to demonstrate the bone mass changes. Pam Hinton, associate professor and the director of nutritional sciences graduates studies in the nutrition and exercise physiology department at University of Missouri says, “Only the bone experiencing a mechanical load is going to get stronger, so we specifically chose exercises that would load the hip and the spine, which is why we had participants do squats, deadlifts, lunges, and the overhead press.” Both programs also progressively upped the intensity of the lifts, and there were rest weeks. 

Pain and fatigue were also reported during the study — declining as the program went on. 

Your takeaway message: keep lifting, progressing heavier over time!