The Best Exercises for Osteoporosis
National Fall Prevention Day is September 23rd, 2019. Each year, there are an estimated 37.3 million incidents of falls that are severe enough to require medical attention (1). One of the main reasons falls among adults older than 65 are so dangerous is due to the high rates of osteoporosis in those individuals. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin, weak, and brittle. Women who have gone through menopause are at the highest risk. The most common broken bones associated with osteoporosis are the wrist, hip, and spine (2). Fracture in already weak bones can lead to serious health problems and loss of independence.
The good news is that there are simple and low-cost ways you can prevent further bone density loss and keep your bones strong. In addition to eating a diet rich in calcium, taking a vitamin D3 supplement, and avoiding smoking and alcohol, one of the best ways to improve bone health is through exercise.
Several research studies have been conducted on what type of exercise is best for individuals who are at risk or already have low bone density. It is widely accepted that exercise that promotes moderate weight bearing through the bones, such as walking, is a good way to prevent bone loss. However, it turns out that regular walking alone can improve bone density in the hips, but not in the spine (3). To get the most positive effect from exercise on whole-body bone health, regular strength training and high impact activity has been suggested to be beneficial (4,5,6,7,8,9, 10). Repetitive, whole-body resistance training and higher impact activity can create the strain needed to stimulate our bodies to produce new bone cells that will strengthen the existing bone. (9-10). Examples of these types of exercises that you can perform with minimal equipment are included below.
That “sweet spot” for the right amount of load on the bone is going to be different for each individual. In general, the amount of repetitions you perform should make your muscles feel tired, but shouldn’t cause pain. The frequency for performing these exercises varies in the research studies, but those performed 2-3 times per week for 20-40 minutes at a time showed the best results (7,8,9,10). It is also important to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise before beginning a new routine. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you determine a routine that is best-suited for your needs.
If you have osteopenia, osteoporosis, or you want to make sure you slow your rate of bone density loss, give us a call at 877-791-7325. We love designing individualized programs for people of all ages. It’s never too late to start exercising.
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3. Martyn-St James M, Carroll S. Meta-analysis of walking for preservation of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Bone. 2008 Sep;43(3):521-31.
4. Zhao R, Zhao M, Xu Z. The effects of differing resistance training modes on the preservation of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: a meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2015 May;26(5):1605-18.
5. Fischbacher M, Weeks BK, Beck BR. The influence of antiresorptive bone medication on the effect of high-intensity resistance and impact training on osteoporotic fracture risk in postmenopausal women with low bone mass: protocol for the MEDEX-OP randomised controlled trial.
6. Mosti M. P., Kaehler N., Stunes A. K., Hoff J., Syversen U. Maximal strength training in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia. J. Strength Cond. 2013 Res. 27 2879–2886.
7. Çergel Y, Topuz O, Alkan H, Sarsan A, Sabir Akkoyunlu N. The effects of short-term back extensor strength training in postmenopausal osteoporotic women with vertebral fractures: comparison of supervised and home exercise program. Arch Osteoporos. 2019 Jul 27;14(1):82.
8. Sibonga J1, Matsumoto T2, Jones J3, Shapiro J4, Lang T5, Shackelford L6, Smith SM7, Young M8, Keyak J9, Kohri K10, Ohshima H11, Spector E12, LeBlanc A13. Resistive exercise in astronauts on prolonged spaceflights provides partial protection against spaceflight-induced bone loss.
9. Pasqualini L1, Ministrini S2, Lombardini R1, Bagaglia F1, Paltriccia R1, Pippi R3, Collebrusco L4, Reginato E3, Sbroma Tomaro E3, Marini E1, D'Abbondanza M1, Scarponi AM5, De Feo P3, Pirro M1. Effects of a 3-month weight-bearing and resistance exercise training on circulating osteogenic cells and bone formation markers in postmenopausal women with low bone mass. Osteoporos Int. 2019 Apr;30(4):797-806.
10. Babatunde OO, Bourton AL, Hind K, Paskins Z, Forsyth JJ. Exercise interventions for preventing and treating low bone mass in the forearm: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019. S0003-9993(19)30985-2.