In short, no. Weightlifting is a sport that will help keep your body in the best shape of your life as you age. It is a sport that can be done recreationally or competitively. Weightlifters (recreational or competitive) see great increases in strength, confidence and mobility which help individuals in their everyday lives. As we get older our bodies need more emphasis on load bearing exercise and less focus on cardiovascular exercise to help our bones stay strong.
Why is this important?
Osteoporosis is a common disease in Australia with 1.2 million people estimated to have osteoporosis and a further 6.3 million with low bone density (according to Osteoporosis Australia stats). Low bone density and osteoporosis leads to fragile bones and joint disorders that restrict everyday movements and will eventually begin to control an individual's life.
What you can do to change or prevent it
To increase an individual's bone density and avoid or lessen the effects of osteoporosis, they need to increase load bearing exercise (along with some supplementation of vitamins). This will usually start with the basics, learning how to do the movements under minimal load (recommended for those with low bone density) then increasing load over a period of time to ensure that the bones are getting stronger and the muscles that protect the bones and joints are getting stronger.
For those that are able to, we increase impact loading also. So we will begin to change some of the lifts you do to suit what your body needs. If you’re body is capable of impact loading we will look into the Olympic style lifts (Snatch and Clean & Jerk) or if you are unable to impact load, we will look into the powerlifts (Bench Press, Deadlift, Back Squat). Accessory movements are added to these programs to ensure that the full body is capable of adapting to the load and increasing overall bone density and muscular strength. Great care is taken to ensure that the individual's body is pushed hard enough to create change but not so hard that it hurts them.
If you start load bearing exercise sooner rather than later you can reduce the risk of low bone density or osteoporosis and enjoy life as you intend to.
Pic at left: Jane, masters league competitor training powerlifts.
Other fantastic benefits of weightlifting
When you join a weightlifting club you will be immersed in a community of like minded individuals that support you with your goals, big or small. This, in turn, helps with our self esteem and how we feel about ourselves. It can have dramatic positive effects on depression and anxiety and can help boost that self confidence (nothing boosts the self esteem like hitting a new PR!)
We encourage better mobility; this means that we encourage you to move better and have more stability around your joints so you feel better when you move around in your everyday life.
There are many other benefits of joining a weightlifting club for your load bearing exercise programme but you really have to join one to find them all out.
Overall, if you begin a load bearing exercise program and you are concerned about low bone density diseases please ensure you join a club with an experienced coach and take your time. Weightlifting isn’t a sprint to the finish line, it’s a lifestyle improvement, treat it like a marathon and enjoy the ride.