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Wearing a Weight Vest can Benefit your Bones


Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by a deterioration of bone, resulting in the loss of bone mass and density. Bones become weak and fragile, leaving them at an increased risk for fracture. Postmenopausal women suffer the most from osteoporosis, with recent studies suggesting that approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

One way women can prevent osteoporosis and improve their bone mineral density is through exercise. Wearing a weighted vest while exercising can enhance the benefits, further improving gains in bone density and muscle strength, as well as balance.

Bone, like every tissue in the body, is constantly repairing and remodeling itself. On a daily basis, new bone is formed and old bone is broken down and removed. With the decline in estrogen that occurs during menopause, bone breakdown begins to outpace new bone formation, resulting in a gradual loss of bone mass and strength as we age.

Luckily exercise, particularly impact exercise, can stimulate new bone formation. Exercises like jogging/running, jumping, court sports, hiking, stair climbing place an increased force through the bones which in turns encourages the production of new bone cells. By wearing a weighted vest during exercise, you add to the load, the bones are forced to bear more weight than they are accustomed to, and they respond by laying down new bone and growing stronger.

What if you can’t perform high impact exercises due to osteoarthritis or injury? Despite the benefits of regular walking on aerobic fitness, weight loss and heart health, simply walking 30 minutes a day is not enough to optimize bone health. This is where a weight vest can be most beneficial. Research shows that by adding weight to the upper body while walking 30 minutes, 3 times a week can not only help to stimulate bone formation but also increase lean muscle mass and improve balance.

Maintaining lean muscle mass while aging is another important factor in preventing bone loss. Improving balance is critical as well, because in the end, if we want to prevent fractures, we need to improve balance and prevent falls.

As an osteoporosis specialist, I often recommend using a weight vest to my clients. After years searching for a vest that comfortably fits the female frame, I came across Challenge Weighted Workoutwear. The Challenge vest delivers all the features of a safe and effective weight vest:
*   Adjustable weight – in 1/4 pound increments
*   Fits snuggly to the shape of a women’s body, preventing vest movement while exercising
*   Has a comfortable abdominal band, which transfers weight from the shoulders to the trunk
*   Weights are slim and easy to slip in and out of the vest enclosures
………………………………and it is stylish!

If you are just starting out with an exercise program for osteoporosis, don’t use any weight in your vest for the first several weeks, simply begin a walking program with the goal of walking 30-45 minutes, five days a week. Once you have accomplished that, you can begin to add weight to your vest. By adding weight gradually, you allow the body to accommodate to the additional weight without risking injury.

Here are some guidelines to follow when adding weight to your vest:
*   Start off with 1 pound of weight evenly distributed in the front and back of the vest.
*   Perform your daily exercise routine with the vest on for 1-2 weeks before increasing the weight
*   Increase the weight by no more than 1 pound a week
*   Alter the position of the new weight so the weights are evenly balanced in the front and back of the vest, as well as side to side
*  Gradually work up to a weight that is equivalent to 4-8% of your body weight, this could take several months

If at any time you begin to feel pain or discomfort, discontinue the use of the vest
Although some people do start by wearing the weighted vests around the home during simple chores, a recent study showed no improvement in muscle strength or markers of bone health when the vest was worn without physical activity. If you are veteran to exercise, wearing a weight vest can maximize the bone building benefits of the workouts you are doing currently. However, a gradual weight increase is
also advised.

Don’t let a diagnosis of osteoporosis leave you feeling frail and fearful of doing anything that might result in a broken bone. Exercise is your best remedy!  A weekly regimen of impact exercise can reduce bone loss, increase muscle strength and improve balance, protecting you against all the harmful effects of osteoporosis. Wearing a weight vest during exercise may provide even more benefits!

For further guidance on using a weight vest or more information on how you can build strong bones, contact Susan Brady, MPT at susan@nurturedbones.com or visit the Nurtured Bones website www.nurturedbones.com.

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to be used as medical advice. Always consult your medical professional
before starting any exercise program.