If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may think that the last thing you need to do is tax your bones by exercising. But the truth is quite the opposite.
Most of your bone production takes place by the age of 35. Exercising during childhood and youth would have helped maximize this bone production. Exercise is also recommended for middle-aged people so as to reduce their chances of developing osteoporosis. But what about those who have already been diagnosed with this bone-thinning disease? Once you’ve got osteoporosis, isn’t it too late to start a bone-healthy exercise regime? When you consider the statistic that more than 1.5 million people go through osteoporotic bone and spinal fractures, it isn’t difficult to understand why you may want to avoid exercise like the plague. But the truth is the exact opposite.
Having osteoporosis means that your bones are becoming more brittle day-by-day. A healthy, properly-designed exercise regimen that you follow regularly may help you prevent falls, and actually reduce the risk of injury from damaged bones.
The right exercises can be used to effectively strengthen the muscles and bones in your body. People with osteoporosis need to work extra hard on maintaining balance and posture, and the right exercises can go a long way in helping you achieve these goals. But this doesn’t mean that just any form of exercise will do! According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are a few specific exercises that work best for people with osteoporosis.
As the name suggests “weight-bearing” exercises are those that tone your body by making you move against gravity, while maintaining balance and posture. The most common form of a weight-bearing exercise is walking. There are plenty of weight-bearing exercises that people with osteoporosis can do, with consent from their healthcare provider. Some examples of low-impact weight-bearing exercises include:
However, some high-impact weight-bearing exercises may not be recommended for people with osteoporosis. For example, it may be a good idea to steer clear of hiking, running, or playing tennis. The trick is to keep your healthcare provider in the know, and to chart your progress slowly. The NOF recommends starting small with about 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise daily. If exercising at a stretch is difficult for you, consider splitting the session into several shorter sessions through the day.
Also known as muscle-strengthening exercises, resistance routines involve the use of a weight or any other article that provides some resistance against gravity to help you strengthen your muscle. For people with osteoporosis, lifting light weights, exercising with elastic exercise bands and weight machines are recommended. While yoga and Pilates are also great muscle-strengthening exercises to help improve balance and flexibility, it is important to go down this road with your physical therapist in tow. Some of the poses may not be safe for those with osteoporosis.
While doing resistance exercises, it is important to keep moderation in mind. Two-three days a week with just one muscle group being exercised per day is a good way to go. NOF recommends spreading out these exercises through the course of your day, if you are having trouble doing them at one go. Another thing to remember is that resistance exercises do not replace the need for doing weight-bearing exercises like walking.
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