New York Times Gets It Totally Wrong on Bone Building

exercise-for-health-squatsA New York Times article states “Exercise Is Not the Path to Strong Bones.” This is false and dangerously misleading.

The article appeared on April 1st here. Is it an April Fool’s joke? If so, it’s a really poor one, but that is the only logical explanation.

The article open with these two sentences. The first is correct….

Misconception: All you have to do is walk or do modest strength training exercises to build strong bones.

Actually: Exercise has little or no effect on bone strength.

…but the “Actually” is completely false. Exercise is the only way to build bone strength. And not only does it work, it works amazingly well. But it has to be strenuous. In effect, it has to deform the bone a bit. The two best exercises for keeping the big bones strong are deadlifts and squats.

The article continues to hammer away at the uselessness of exercise, the value of certain injections, and why various studies that showed that elderly exercisers built bone were bogus.

And there are plenty of studies that contradict the author’s claims. Here’s one from 2002.

I (Davis) am a poster boy for this one. A jogger, I was diagnosed in 2000, at age 55, with borderline osteoporosis. Dr. Mike said, no pills, start doing squats and deadlifts with heavy weight. With six months, I was well out of the danger zone. Now, 15 years and around 45,000 reps later, I am two standard deviations above the normal bone density for my age. What does this mean? It means I am in the top 2% in terms of bone strength. It also means I am never, ever going to have osteoporosis, as long as I keep pumping that iron. Nice to know.

But maybe I am an outlier. Consider this. Of the first thousand or so people to to undertake Dr. Mike’s Quantitative Medicine protocols, 200 or so got more than one bone density measurement. Why more than one? These were primarily the people in trouble. About a third were already osteoporotic and and the majority in some degree of bone strength trouble. After six months of the program, which involved two intense exercise sessions a week, all but 3 of these 200 had built new bone. Further, 2 of the 3 that didn’t eventually would as well. And no pills or shots, just exercise. Details here.

We have no idea where the NY TIme health reported got her information, but she should consider a retraction. Statements like “Exercise has little or no effect on bone strength” are false, dangerous, and harmful. How many thousands of people have now gotten that idea implanted in their heads?

  7 comments for “New York Times Gets It Totally Wrong on Bone Building

  1. Jim
    April 10, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Another poorly researched article by Gina Kolata. I sent her an email about the article – we’ll see if she responds=-O

  2. Jim L
    April 11, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    I love the headline on your post. This blog is a great service as there are articles constantly being published claiming one thing or another is healthful or unhealthful and it is great to be able to get commentary like this that puts it all in perspective based on evidence and what works. Thanks Dr Mike, Charles and and team

    • April 12, 2016 at 7:54 am

      Hi Jim,

      Ms. Kolata is a known exercise nihilist, that part is a given, but sometimes she just blithely ignores mountains of contrary evidence; as in this case. Thank you for the encouragement, Jim. Dr. Mike

      • Jim
        April 12, 2016 at 9:28 am

        I actually emailed her and commented on her lack of in-depth research for the article. All she could say was that she feels her reporting was accurate. I also suggested she look into you website and give it some thought.

  3. Ginger
    April 24, 2016 at 7:09 am

    What if your knees are in poor shape and you cannot do a full squatter alone a dead lift, and you have been diagnosed with severe osteoporosis what kind of exercise can u do or should you take the medicine ? Older people can’t always do the things like a full squat and then lift a bar with a weight?

    • April 25, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Hi Ginger,
      Start with the limited range of motion you have. Slowly, methodically, increase your range of motion. This could take months but the benefit is enormous. I apologize that I don’t have it at hand but we have an entire post on this site about how to build range of motion and pain free function. It can be done, I know as I have a very badly damaged knee that now works very well and allows me pain free walking. Dr. Mike

  4. Ginger
    April 27, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you I would love to have that post if it would be possible .

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