Doing exercises for osteoporosis is just as important in managing this bone disease as making sure you get enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D in your diet. Doing three basic types of exercises on a regular basis will go a long way toward preventing and even treating osteoporosis and osteopenia (the pre-cursor to osteoporosis). So, what are these three types? Weight-bearing, strength training and core strengthening.
If you are living with osteoporosis, the first type of exercise you'll want to include in your exercise program for osteoporosis management is weight-bearing exercise - exercise in which your feet are supporting your body weight and your bones and muscles work against gravity.
Weight-bearing exercises for osteoporosis are great because they put stress on the large bones in your lower body, as well as in your lower back. Since the hips and vertebrae are a frequent area of fracture in osteoporosis patients, building up those bones is especially important.
High-impact weight-bearing exercises such as running and jumping stress your bones more than low-impact exercises such as walking. If you don't yet have osteoporosis, high-impact exercises would be a good choice - the more an activity stresses your bones, the stronger they can potentially become.
If you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, however, high-impact exercises may actually harm your already weakened bones, potentially causing fractures. So, if you have osteoporosis, you'll need to find that happy medium between doing too much (and possibly harming your fragile bones) and doing enough to cause your bones to rebuild. Start with low-impact exercises always - try walking, dancing, or low-impact aerobics classes.
Weight-bearing exercise helps improve bone strength in your lower body. Because it doesn't effectively stress the bones of the upper body, however, your program of exercise for osteoporosis management should also include strength training (also referred to as weight training or resistance training). In strength training you use weights or machines to stress the muscles and bones. Weight training can also be done just using the weight of your own body (push-ups and pull-ups). Please refer to my pages on strength training, body weight exercises and dumbbell exercisesfor more details on specific exercises and how to perform them.
If you're living with osteoporosis, you'll want to start with very light weights and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Your bones are fragile, but stressing them with weights will serve to strengthen them. Choose exercises that specifically work the muscles in your upper back and arms. To read more about the specifics of strength training, please refer to my page on types of exercise.
Strength training should absolutely be included in your program of exercises for osteoporosis management. According to Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University, an exercise program that includes just 2 weekly sessions (about 40 minutes each) of strength training can raise your bone mineral density as much as taking estrogen (to read more about bone mineral density, please see my page on osteoporosis t score).
The third type of exercise for osteoporosis management is core strengthening. If you have osteoporosis, the vertebrae in your back are potentially very fragile, so strengthening the muscles that support the spine and vertebrae is important. Doing exercises that work your abs and lower back will accomplish this. Core strengthening exercises for osteoporosis include abdominal routines, Pilates, Tai Chi and yoga. I especially recommend exercises like Tai Chi and yoga for osteoporosis management because they also help with balance, thereby reducing the risk of falls and fractures! A great exercise for strengthening your core is the plank. Please refer to my page on the plank to learn more about this wonderful exercise.
An effective program of exercises for osteoporosis management should include the above three types of exercise - weight-bearing, strength training, and core strengthening. I suggest doing weight-bearing exercise for at least 30 minutes most days, strength training 2 to 3 times per week, and core strengthening also 2 to 3 times.
Two types of exercise that really wouldn't be recommended as good exercises to prevent osteoporosis, but are very therapeutic if you are living with osteoporosis, are biking and swimming.
Bicycling is a fantastic aerobic exercise. It is low-impact and non-weight-bearing. It typically doesn't provide enough stress on your bones to strengthen them much, but if you already have fragile bones, however, biking may be a good choice. It can help improve muscle strength, which is always important.
Swimming is another recommended gentle, low-impact exercise for osteoporosis sufferers. Swimming is, once again, an extremely low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise. While it is not recommended as an effective exercise to prevent osteoporosis, for those living with osteoporosis it is often the perfect exercise to start with - especially after a fall or fracture. There is very little chance you'll fall or have a fracture from swimming - so, start with swimming to build up muscle strength before moving on to other weight-bearing aerobic activities like walking.
Developing and participating in a good program of exercises for osteoporosis management will go a long way toward improving bone mineral density and reducing the risk for fractures. Following healthy eating guidelines, getting plenty of sunshine for Vitamin D and taking other supplements for osteoporosis will also help. Also be sure to check out my page on treating osteoporosis for more ideas on natural ways to manage this disease. Do your best to live a healthy lifestyle and your bones will thank you!
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Exercise To Prevent Osteoporosis - Keep Your Bones Healthy For Life With These 3 Types of Exercise!