If you have osteoporosis, you may have the misconception that exercise causes fractures. In fact, using your muscles helps protect your bones.
Osteoporosis is the leading cause of disability in older adults. Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disorder that often leads to hip and spine fractures that can severely impair mobility and self-care.
How can you reduce the risk of these life-changing injuries? Exercise may help.
Certain types of exercise strengthen muscles and bones, while others aim to improve balance and may help prevent falls.
Benefits of exercise
It's never too late to start exercising. For menopausal women, regular physical activity can:
- Increase your muscle strength
- Improve balance
- Reduce fracture risk
- Maintain or improve posture
- Relieve pain
Before you start
Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program for osteoporosis. You may need to do some tests first, including:
bone density test
In the meantime, think about what your favorite activities are. If you choose an exercise you enjoy, you're more likely to stick with it.
Choose the right form of exercise
The following types of exercise are often recommended for people with osteoporosis:
Strength training, especially upper back strength training
stability and balance exercises
Because of varying degrees of osteoporosis and fracture risk, your doctor may not encourage you to do certain exercises. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if you are at risk for osteoporosis-related diseases and to find out which exercises are right for you.
Strength training involves using free weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight to strengthen all major muscle groups, especially the spinal muscles that are important for posture. Resistance training may also help maintain bone density.
If using adjustable wrist weights, be careful not to twist the spine when using or adjusting the equipment.
Resistance training should be performed according to ability and tolerance, especially when painful. A physical therapist or personal trainer with experience in osteoporosis can help you develop a strength training program. Proper form and technique are critical to preventing injury and getting the most out of your workouts.
Weight-bearing aerobics involves doing aerobic exercise with your feet, which support your body weight with your bones. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical trainers, stair climbing, and gardening.
This type of exercise works directly on the bones of the legs, hips, and lower spine to slow mineral loss. They also have cardiovascular benefits, promoting heart and circulatory health.
Importantly, aerobic exercise, while beneficial to general health, should not be the be-all and end-all of your exercise program. It is equally important to develop strength, flexibility and balance.
Swimming and cycling are beneficial, but they don't provide the weight load your bones need to slow mineral loss. However, if you like these sports, then do it. But make sure to increase your weight-bearing activities as much as possible.
A full range of motion through your joints helps keep your muscles working properly. Stretching is best done after the muscles have warmed up, such as at the end of exercise, or after a 10-minute warm-up. It should be done gently and slowly, without bouncing.
Avoid stretches that cause the spine to curve or move toward the lower back. Ask your doctor about the best exercises for you.
stability and balance exercises
Preventing falls is especially important for people with osteoporosis. Stability and balance exercises help muscles work together to keep you stable and reduce the chance of falls. Simple exercises like standing on one leg or tai chi can help improve your stability and balance.
sports to avoid
If you have osteoporosis, do not do the following exercises:
High-intensity workouts. Activities such as jumping, running, or jogging can cause fractures in weak bones. Usually to avoid strenuous, fast exercise. Choose slow, controlled movements. Although you have osteoporosis, you may be generally healthy and strong, and you may be able to engage in some relatively high-impact sports compared to someone who is frail.
Bend or turn your body. If you have osteoporosis, bending and twisting your lower back (such as touching your toes, doing sit-ups) can increase your risk of spinal compression fractures. Other activities that may require you to bend or twist hard include golf, tennis, bowling, and some yoga poses.
If you're not sure if your bones are healthy, talk to your doctor. Enjoy sports to the fullest and don't be afraid of breaking a bone.