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Can Weightlifting Reverse Bone Loss?

  • Category: Bone Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Angela Roy, Bone Health Specialist
Can Weightlifting Reverse Bone Loss?

Most people know that weightlifting can help build and maintain muscle mass and strength, but it may seem counterintuitive to think about lifting heavy weights when your bones aren’t as strong. Nearly 20% of women and 5% of men aged 50 and over have osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and more likely to break. And not enough of them are lifting weights. Here’s how it can help and tips to get started.

Weightlifting, or strength training, can slow bone loss and some studies show it can even build bone, which is important for anyone – osteoporosis diagnosis or not -- as it helps offset the bone mass you naturally lose as you age.

In a year-long study, strength training helped women aged 65-75 gain bone strength in their hips and lower back. Various studies with men, ranging from 50-79 years old, showed strength training either stopped or reversed their age-related bone loss.

Weightlifting is one type of weight-bearing exercise, which makes the body work against gravity. Weight-bearing exercises include running, walking, jumping rope, playing tennis or basketball, to name a few. On the other hand, swimming and cycling are non-weight-bearing exercises.

During weight-bearing activities, the muscles and tendons apply tension to the bones, kicking the cells that produce bone tissue into action. As a result, bones become stronger. A combination of weight-bearing activities plus weightlifting is the best bet for building bone density.

Women, who are more at risk for osteoporosis, can reap the bone-building benefits with just two or three 20- to 30-minute weightlifting sessions per week. There’s no age limit to weightlifting, but after consulting with your doctor, start slow and increase weight slowly as you begin to build muscle.

And don’t stress that lifting weights will make you look like a bodybuilder or too masculine. With lower testosterone levels compared to males, it’s harder for women to build bulky muscles. But, it will make you leaner and stronger! Weightlifting can also improve your balance and coordination, which can help prevent falls, a major cause of fractures.

Take our Bone Health Center quiz to determine if you are at risk for osteoporosis.


Angela Roy, PA-C
Bone Health
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Bone Health Center
(225) 237-1810