People with osteoporosis, especially those who have experienced fractures, may avoid exercise for fear of falling or causing additional fractures. However, staying physically active is important for strengthening bones and preventing falls. Safe and effective exercise can lower your risk for falls and fractures.
Lack of exercise can also contribute to the development of other conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Exercise also helps fight inflammation, reduce stress, and improve mood.
For all these reasons, exercise is an important part of staying healthy for people with osteoporosis.
What does it involve?
Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Your doctor may want to measure your bone density and assess your fitness.
Exercise can be high-impact or low-impact. Your doctor can help guide you toward activities that are safe and effective for your condition. For example, activities that involve jumping, bending, or twisting may be dangerous for those with a high risk for fractures.
Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities can range from rapid walking to stair-climbing, using an elliptical machine, dancing, or lifting weights. Even bearing your own body weight or lifting very light weights can build bones. Many weight-bearing exercises can be done in a seated position.
Improving balance and flexibility can help you avoid falls. Regular stretching is good for flexibility. Exercises that focus on balance and flexibility include tai chi and yoga.
Tai chi and yoga are ancient forms of exercise that involve moving your body gently into a variety of poses. You can do tai chi or yoga at home while watching DVDs or online videos that guide you through the poses. If you prefer, you can join a class to incorporate social aspects. Some positions may not be safe for those with osteoporosis. Look for classes or videos aimed at seniors, or a teacher who has experience working with people who have osteoporosis.
Daily activities such as shopping, gardening, or walking a pet can also provide safe, valuable exercise.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, follow some general safety guidelines. Always begin your workout session with a gradual warm-up and take the time to cool down afterward. Stay hydrated with plenty of cool liquids, choosing beverages without caffeine. While exercising, listen to your body. If you feel pain or become short of breath, take a break and rest. Exercise should be somewhat challenging, but never a struggle.
It is important not to become discouraged early on when beginning an exercise regimen. Set attainable goals and focus on finding ways of staying active that are safe, enjoyable and easy to do regularly.
Exercise can help those with osteoporosis strengthen bones, prevent falls, decrease the risk for fractures, and improve balance and flexibility.
Regular exercise may reduce the risk of falls by 25 percent and lower the risk of hip fractures by 50 percent.
Medication side effects such a dizziness or nausea may make it more difficult to exercise.
For more details, visit the following links:
Osteoporosis Exercise for Strong Bones - National Osteoporosis Foundation
Effective exercises for osteoporosis - Harvard Health Publishing
Exercising with osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way - Mayo Clinic
Exercising Safely with Osteoporosis - Cleveland Clinic