Active Seniors

Your body composition affects your bone strength

We have all been told about the benefits of exercise and nutrition on bone strength. Resistance exercise and dietary modification are two of the key non pharmacological strategies that can help in the management of osteoporosis. What is often not spoken about are the effects of your body composition on bone density and bone growth.

Studies looking at different body types and their effects on hip bone density have shown that the amount of muscle and fat mass you have can affect bone development. Having a greater amount of lean mass or muscle tissue led to greater longer term improvements in bone density when compared to those who had higher fat mass. While having greater overall body mass can stimulate bone growth as the body has to carry more load, what is often not considered are the other effects of greater body mass.

Having excessive fat mass can trigger inflammation which can actually have the opposite effect on bone density. In the presence of inflammation, the cells that break down bone increase their activity leading to a greater rate of bone breakdown than is being regenerated.

The good news is that changing body composition to reduce fat mass and increase lean tissue comes through the same two key elements – exercise and nutrition. What you may need to consider are that your approach may need to be a bit broader as opposed to being specific to osteoporosis management. For example, while aerobic exercise has a limited effect on bone density changes, it may be beneficial to combine aerobic exercise with resistance training if you are trying to reduce your fat mass.

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