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Exercises to Prevent Osteoporosis


Overview

Exercise is an effective, inexpensive and healthy way to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Unlike hormone replacement therapy, by exercising you are more likely to lose weight than gain weight, it can be done for free, and it reduces, rather than increases, your chances of developing breast cancer.

Exercises for Osteoporosis cover

Exercises for Osteoporosis - Features exercises for the neck, hips, back, arms, and legs. Special exercises to increase balance to help prevent falls and fractures. Complete beginner, intermediate, and advanced workout programs.

These factors are illustrated in the table below:

Factors Associated with HRT Compared to Exercise for Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment

 

Hormone Replacement Therapy

 

 

Osteoporosis Exercise

 

Prevents osteoporosis

 

 

Prevents osteoporosis

 

Makes it easy to gain weight

 

 

Makes it easier to lose weight

 

Increase your odds of getting breast cancer

 

 

Reduces your odds of getting breast cancer

 

Costs money to pay for treatment and doctor visits

 

 

Can be done for free

 

Increases your risk of Alzheimers and Dementia

 

   

Exercise works for osteoporosis prevention because it places stress on bones, which results in increased bone mass. This is especially true for weight bearing and weight training types of exercises. Exercise also has added benefits beyond osteoporosis treatment and prevention such as reduced risk of heart disease, weight management and the prevention of high blood pressure. Calcium, the major component of bones, is not well absorbed unless a demand for it is created through exercise.

Weight Bearing Exercise

According to Betty and Si Kamen, authors of Osteoporosis, aerobic walking is the best possible exercise for osteoporosis prevention. Walking outside in the sunshine not only gives bones the strengthening benefits that come with the weight bearing exercise of walking, but the skin exposure to sunshine also helps with the absorption of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium from the intestines and into the blood. Statistically, about 30 - 40 percent of the people who get hip fractures, a common occurrence with osteoporosis, are vitamin D deficient.

In order to find out how much I was walking each day, I bought a pedometer, a small electronic device about the size of a beeper to wear on my waistband. It tracks how many miles I walk in a day based on the number of strides that it registers.

The results were very surprising. I found that on a typical day that I exercise for about 30 minutes and don't spend a lot of time on the computer, I walk about 6 - 8 miles. On days I spend a lot of time on the computer, even if I walk around the block a couple of times (1.6 miles) or do a 30 minute aerobic indoor walking video, my total miles walked is only about 3 - 4 miles.

For me, limiting my computer usage, a time when my muscles are relatively inactive, has a bigger impact on the total number of miles I walk than performing 30 minutes of "pure" exercise does. The incremental amount of walking I do just through performing normal household chores and errands makes a bigger impact in my total activity level than setting aside time to do an exercise video or going on an "official" walk.

Other forms of exercise that are good for osteoporosis include lifting weights and aerobic dancing. I like to walk out doors best for the sunshine, but for days when it is raining or too hot, I keep a set of low impact aerobic and indoor walking videos.


 

Other Forms of Osteoporosis Exercise

If you don't like weight bearing exercises, remember that any form of exercise may be better than no exercise at all. Recent research has shown that astronauts, coma victims and other bedridden patients are highly susceptible to losing bone mass. From this we can surmise that not performing any weight bearing activity may cause a lose of bone mass. We also know from research that weight bearing activities such as walking, aerobic dancing and weightlifting are highly effective for improving bone mass. That leaves a lot of room in between those two extremes for other forms of activity to fall somewhere else on the osteoporosis exercise effectiveness continuum, as shown below.

Osteoporosis Exercise Continuum

Coma patients

Weightless astronauts in space

=============>

 

People who engage in moderate amounts of weight bearing activities - weightlifting, walking, aerobic dancing

 

Lose bone mass

=============>

 

Improved bone mass

 

 

Activities such as yoga, swimming, gardening, and housework fall somewhere in between

 

When researchers perform osteoporosis exercise studies, they often only consider the benefits of adding a specific type of exercise for a specific amount of time per week. But what it is important to remember is that your body doesn't know the difference between when you are at the gym and "officially exercising" or when you are raking leaves. There are 168 hours in a week. If you only exercise for three of those hours, that is less than 2% of your weekly life. Your bones are going to respond to your total level of activity or inactivity in your life, and not just the time you spend at the gym.

Yoga and Pilates for Osteoporosis

It is commonly stated that activities like yoga and pilates are not good for building healthy bones, but like many overly broad statements, this generalization bears a closer look. There are many factors involved in exercise - time, intensity, frequency and duration to name a few. To say that yoga is not good for bone building by itself is not a true statement. The question to ask is, What activity is yoga being compared to? Compared to lying in bed watching TV or sitting at a PC keying in data, yoga is probably a great form of bone building exercise.

There are many different types of yoga, and some yoga classes can be pretty intense. There are yoga poses where you sit or lay on the floor and relax, and there are other yoga poses do things like balance on one foot while holding the other foot out behind you with one hand. Postures like the latter one can involve quite a bit of weight bearing activity. If you can't do weight lifting exercises because of scoliosis or fibromyalgia pain, common conditions in women with osteoporosis, you may want to consider trying something less strenuous such as yoga or pilates.

osteopilates book cover

Pilates Exercises for Ostoporosis

 

woman in mountain yoga pose

 

 

Related Pages:

Diet for Healthy Bones - Diet tips to keep bones strong and healthy.

Osteopenia Prevention - read my reviews of the best books I've found on the topic.

Exercises and Yoga Postures for Scoliosis - spinal curvature is a common condition in women with osteoporosis.

Recommended web site on Osteoporosis & Exercise

Exercise for Osteoporosis - from the Mayo Clinic web site. Tips on exercises to increase bone strength.


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