It is well established that performing regular muscle fitness exercise is important for building and maintain strong bones.
When we think of muscle fitness,s most of us think of strength (the ability to exert force or lift a weight) and muscular endurance (the ability to repeat muscle performances for many repetitions).
Resistance training—such as using free weights, exercise bands, or resistance machines—produce gains in strength (muscle tissue mass) and muscular endurance (repeating an exercise many times). Exercise that builds strength and muscular endurance also has benefits for the bones.
New evidence shows that another type of muscle fitness, power, has special benefits for the bones.
Power—the ability to perform strength activities explosively—is demonstrated by activities such as jumping and putting the shot.
The new evidence indicates that performing power activities stimulates bone health as much or even more than other muscle fitness activities. Authors of an “in press” paper indicate “that there is solid evidence that jumping and similar explosive activities improves bone strength.”
Bone mass is low in children as compared to adults. In the teen to early adult years we achieve our highest bone density (bone mass). This “peak bone mass” decreases as we grow older.
If the decrease is too great, the bones become frail and are at risk of injury. Accordingly, it is important to build as much bone mass as possible in our early years.
Having a high “peak bone mass” early in life is like having a health savings account. The more you have in your account the more you will have later when you start to lose bone density.
For these reasons, building muscle fitness, especially power, is very important for children and teens. Experts conclude that “specifically including activities such as those in jumping sports (e.g., volleyball and basketball) and activities such as jump rope, hop scotch, and skipping games should be considered in developing physical education, school, and community sports programs.
But power activities are not only for kids. They have benefits to adults as well, including older adults.
Muscle fitness activities delay age-related losses in bone mass, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and reduce the risk of falling. In addition, muscle fitness activities, including power activities, enhance muscle development and help people of all ages maintain a healthy body composition.
For adults, resistance training, weight bearing exercises, jumping activities and activities such as hitting a ball with power (e.g., tennis, volleyball, golf) all have benefits.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend “age appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening activities.” Ideally they should be performed at least two days a week for adults and three for youth.
Muscle fitness exercise, including power activities, can build healthy bones and contribute to lifelong health.
Source: Corbin, Janz, & Baptista. Good Health: The Power of Power, JOPERD, in press.
-Chuck Corbin is professor emeritus at Arizona State University and a 30-year resident of Ahwatukee.