Want to build stronger bones? Hit the gym. The healthier your muscle mass, the better off your bones will be, according to a new study in the Journal of Bone & Mineral Research.
Researchers used high-resolution imaging technologies to analyze the association between people’s skeletal muscle mass and their bone architecture and strength. The results: Data showed that muscle can greatly impact the two layers of bone—cortical and femoral—in both men and women.
Why worry about bone strength now? Though men reach their peak muscle mass and bone strength by their mid-30s, you lose roughly 10 percent of that muscle mass with every decade that passes, says Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., lead study author and researcher at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging at Mayo Clinic.
“That means between the ages of 30 and 90 years old, we can lose up to 60 percent of our muscle mass,” says LeBrasseur.
Your plan of action: Start safeguarding your strength, stat. If you’re losing bone, there’s nothing you can do to build it back up, says LeBrasseur. But if you routinely work out and focus on keeping your muscles strong, it can lead to long-lasting bone benefits.
Instead of targeting specific muscles, LeBrasseur suggests sticking to total-body routines. By keeping your upper and lower extremities in good shape, you’ll not only work your hips and boost your mobility, but you’ll also preserve your ability to lift heavy objects and stay injury-free, he explains. (Need a routine that sculpts every muscle on your body? Discover The Workout That Gets You Shredded.)