March 2, 2009 - Higher impact better?

A new study suggests that higher impact activities may help bone density to a greater degree than weight training. Does this mean that you should immediately go out and start running or doing high intensity jumping drills? Absolutely not! However, what it does suggest is that light weight training and low impact activities such as walking do very little to improve or maintain bone density. Based on my experience most people do not do weight training or other exercise at a high enough level of resistance or impact to do any good. Other studies also illustrate that unless you are doing resistance training with weights at 80% or more of your maximum weight you will not build or maintain bone density. This means using a weight that only allows you to do roughly 8 reps. That means if you are using a weight that you could really do 12 reps with and only do 8 you aren't using 80%. This means you have to push yourself to use the proper weight in order to see results. In order to do this effectively you need to have the ability to adjust weights in at least 2.5lb increments with weights under 50lbs and in 5lb increments with weights greater than 50lbs. Yes, doing some higher impact activites such as jumping or jogging etc can be beneficial, but you need to make sure you are able to do them safely (i.e. under the guidance of someone who knows how to assess whether or not those activities are appropriate for you at the current time. Take home message is, even appropriate exercises, using inadequate resistance or impact will do little to ellicit progress, especially if bone density is a goal.