All men (and women for that matter) grow old; it’s inevitable. However, men do not have to necessarily become feeble. A new study performed at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden suggests that young men who play volleyball, basketball, or other load-bearing sports for four hours or more a week increase bone mass and may be protecting themselves from developing osteoporosis as they grow older. This study was done solely on men, but similar results have been discovered in women as well.1
Osteoporosis is a disease in the bones that leads to weak and porous bones, which result in fractures. As men age, they become more and more susceptible to this disease.2 However, there is promise for those who are active in their youthful years. By being active earlier in life and producing bigger bones, these individuals may produce stronger bones, resulting in a shield against the disease. Osteoporosis seems to start at age 25 when bones start to lose tissue, and by age 50 or older the damage is usually evident.3
So what exercises or activities or good for building bone mass? Sports that require fast starts and jumping increase the load placed on the bones and are also good exercises to help increase bone mass. The recent study done in Sweden showed that basketball and volleyball are the best kinds of activities for doing so, followed by soccer and tennis.4 What about weight lifting? A recent study done in Wisconsin showed the back squat is a good tool for osteogenesis, or building bone mass. The optimal load for doing so was 120% of one’s estimated one-rep max with a reduced range of motion.5
As you can see, the benefits of an active lifestyle outweigh the alternative inactive choice. Not only does an active lifestyle benefit you now, but it literally “lays the foundation” for a better quality of life for years to come.