A PILATES pupil of mine asked me about weight training. She was over 50, post menopause, and had been advised to start exercising using weights. What was my opinion? My answer in short was: if you’d like to go to the gym and train with weights, then do it! In fact that is my answer to any form of exercise and movement, do it if you’d like to do it but if the thought of spending a morning going to a gym to workout bores you to death, then find another way. Believe me, I spent 12 years working in gyms getting people to move, if the spirit is unwilling, the flesh might as well go home!

Weight bearing exercise is undoubtedly important to our human form. As women’s bodies age the depletion of the hormone oestrogen is just one factor which contributes towards loss of bone density. This is not only a female problem, there are many reasons why both men and women might suffer from osteoporosis.

Our bones are the storage cupboards for the minerals which our body needs to function. Bones hold on to mineral salts, one of which is calcium. Calcium is released into the blood stream to be used as a catalyst for brain, reproductive and muscle function. We need calcium to think and move, our bones store it as they develop. Bones are still growing in our 20s, by then we have laid down most of the bone tissue which holds our calcium stores. We can see why it is important that children and young people have a good diet, fresh air for vitamin D and exercise. We build our bones for the future.

Very simply, bone cells are in a constant state of building and clearing. Some cells rebuild the density of the bone, other cells pull out minerals to send to the parts of the body where they are needed. If the builders are more lazy than the checkers outers…we have a problem! Bone depletion. But here’s what happens: when a bone feels a muscle pulling against it it will send reinforcements to the site to create more density in that area. If the pull is strong and regular, the bone will continue to send these bone cells to build strength. Basically, this is the theory behind weight training for bone health. Picking up a weight in a gym is not the only way to do though. In Pilates we use weight-bearing exercises which support the movements you might do in daily life, such as push ups, side bends and other strong movements. The spinal work we do creates the pushes and pulls against the vertebrae which develops a strong spine.

Find out more at: yorkpilates.com