Osteoporosis & Exercise
Most people with osteoporosis mistakenly think exercise will results in fracture. Actually, though, working on your muscles helps protect your bones.

Osteoporosis is a major cause of disability in seniors, especially older women. This is a bone-weakening disease, which often leads to fractures in the hip and spine and can severely impair your independence and mobility.

Find here How does exercise affect osteoporosis? What exercises are best for osteoporosis? What exercises should be avoided with osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis And Exercise!

Can exercise help and reduce your risk of these life-changing injuries?

You must be eager to find out how does exercise affect osteoporosis?

There are certain types of exercises that can help strengthen your muscles and bones, and then there are some other types that can improve your balance — so help avoid falls.

Benefits of Exercise

It’s never too late to start exercising. For seniors – especially postmenopausal women, regular exercise can:

  • Enhance muscle strength
  • Improve balance
  • Reduce risk of bone fracture
  • Maintain or improve posture
  • Relieve or reduce pain

But if you have osteoporosis, it’s very important for you to find out the safe physical activities that you enjoy keeping in view your overall health and amount of bone that you have already lost. There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription.

Before You Begin!

(i) If you have osteoporosis, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

(ii) Think of some exercises and physical activities that you enjoy most. If you select an activity you enjoy, you’re more likely to continue and stick with it over time.

Selecting The Right Form of Exercise

The following types of physical activities are generally recommended for people having osteoporosis:

(i) Strength training exercises, particularly those for the upper back

(ii) Weight-bearing aerobic activities

(iii) Flexibility exercises

(iv) Balance and stability exercises

Due to the varying stages of osteoporosis and the associated potential risk of fracture, you might need to avoid certain exercises. So, consult your doctor or physical therapist about the level at which you’re at the risk of osteoporosis-related problems, and opt for exercises that are good for you.

Strength training

Strength (Resistance) training includes doing exercises with resistance bands, free weights, even your own body weight to strengthen all major muscle groups, particularly spinal muscles – which is important for posture. Strength training can also help maintain/improve bone density.

If you are using exercise machines, be extra cautious not to twist your spine while adjusting the machines or performing exercises.

Strength (Resistance) training should be according to your tolerance and ability, particularly if you have pain. Proper technique and correct form are very important in order to prevent injury and get the most from your exercise routine. A physical therapist or even a personal trainer with enough experience of having worked with people with osteoporosis can help you develop strength-training routines as per your specific condition and needs.

[Read: Important Tips For Strength/Resistance Training For Seniors]

Weight-Bearing Aerobic Exercises

These exercises involve doing aerobic activities on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Some examples are walking, low-impact aerobics, dancing, stair climbing, gardening and elliptical training machines.

These types of exercises work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow down mineral loss. They also offer cardiovascular benefits, which help boost circulatory system and heart health.

The aerobic activities, though important for your overall health, are not the whole of your exercise program. It’s also crucial to work on your strength, balance and flexibility.

Although, cycling and swimming provide many benefits, but they don’t offer the weight-bearing load that your bones need in order to slow down mineral loss. However, if you like these activities, do them by all means. But make sure you also add weight-bearing activities according to your ability.

[Read: Aerobic Exercise Tips For Seniors]

Flexibility Exercises

Moving joints through their full range of motion helps us keep our muscles working well. Static stretches provide best results and are safe when performed after your muscles are warmed up. This can be either after a 10-minute warm-up or at the end of your exercise session. You should do them gently and slowly, without any jerk or bouncing.

Avoid stretches that involve flexing your spine or make you bend at the waist. Check with your doctor about the stretching exercises that are best for you.

[Read: Maintaining Flexibility As You Age]

Stability and Balance Exercises

Fall prevention is particularly very important for the people having osteoporosis. Stability and balance exercises cause our muscles to work together in a way so as to improve our stability and balance, thus making us less likely to fall. Simple exercises like standing on one leg or physical movement-based exercises like tai chi can improve your balance and stability.

[Read: Top Exercise For Seniors]

Movements To Avoid In Case Of Osteoporosis

If you are suffering from osteoporosis, don’t do the following types of exercises:

(i) High-Impact Exercises: Activities like jogging, running or jumping can cause fractures in weakened bones. Avoid rapid, bouncing or jerky movements in general. Opt for exercises with controlled, slow movements. If you’re generally strong and fit in spite of having osteoporosis, you might be able to engage in somewhat higher-impact exercises than someone who is frail.

(ii) Bending and Twisting: Exercises in which you are required to bend forward at the waist and twist your waist. For example doing sit-ups or touching your toes can increase your risk of compression fractures in your spine if you are suffering from osteoporosis. Other activities that require you to bend or twist forcefully at the waist are tennis, bowling, golf and some yoga poses.

However, don’t allow fear of fractures keep you from being active and having fun. But, in case you’re not sure or have any doubt about how healthy and strong your bones are, check with your doctor.

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Renu Bakshi AKA Fitness BuffhqPersonal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”

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