How To Stay Active With Osteoporosis
- Strengthening, weight-bearing, flexibility and balancing exercises are preferred for osteoporosis.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes daily for physical activity to stay active.
- Avoid exercise that increases pressure or strain on muscles and bones.
- Consult doctors or physicians for the severity of osteoporosis and proper exercise programs.
Osteoporosis is a chronic metabolic bone disorder characterized by diminished bone strength. People with osteoporosis have brittle and weak bones with an increased risk of sudden fracture (hip, sudden fracture) even while doing daily activities.
Although people from both sexes are affected, it was found that women are four times at higher risk of contracting the disease as compared to men. This is because hormonal changes during menopause in women directly affect the bone density, thereby reducing the bone density of healthy bones and increasing the risk of osteoporosis
Though osteoporosis is preventable and manageable, there are no early indication signs before fracture and many patients are not diagnosed in time to get effective treatment during the early phase of the illness.
Various factors like nutritional deficiency, alcohol consumption, smoking, genetic factors, menopause, aging, and certain medical disorders like diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, dementia, and medications like glucocorticoids are found to be risk factors for osteoporosis.
Prevention of osteoporosis starts with a healthy diet, proper nutrition, and physical activity at an early age, control of risk factors, maintaining medication therapy, and timely management of hormonal balance disorders. For older adults and osteoporosis patients, exercise plays a vital role in staying active.
In this blog, we will examine how to stay active with osteoporosis.
Benefits of exercise in osteoporosis
Exercise for osteoporosis and for postmenopausal women can:
- Enhance your muscle strength
- Improve balance
- Reduce chance of bone fracture
- Retain or improve posture
- Reduce or remove pain
- Improve health fitness
- Boost our mood and wellbeing
Exercise for osteoporosis
Before starting any physical activity or exercise, osteoporotic patients must talk to their physician. Consulting a physician or therapist helps figure out the severity of osteoporosis and the types of exercise ideal for our condition.
You may initially require some tests, for example:
- Bone density measurement
- Fracture risk assessment
- Fitness test
Measuring bone density and assessing the risk of fracture can be done quantitatively by using most widely technique Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Following are the different types of exercise preferred for patients having osteoporosis. Coordinating all these exercises is necessary to prevent bone thinning and help in the management of osteoporosis.
1. Strength training
- All major muscle groups in our body can be strengthened using these types of exercise primarily the spinal muscle that is crucial for posture.
- In strength training, muscles move against some resistance by adding load for muscle using free weight, resistance bands, and our body weight that increase muscle resistance thereby increasing strength and bones get stronger. It works for postural marks in abdomen, pelvis, and back and helps to maintain proper posture by stabilizing the muscle.
- A few examples of strength training are lifting free weights, weighing machines at home or the gym, resistance tubing in a variety of strengths, and lifting own body weight. The muscle becomes stronger by performing weight-lifting exercise regularly. At least twice or thrice a week perform this exercise.
- Always use good posture, form, and technique while performing this exercise, or else might cause severe injury or sudden fracture. Bone strengthening exercise helps to increase bone density.
2. Weight bearing exercise
- Physical activity and mobility are important for bone health, and in patients with osteoporosis.
- In these exercises, our body works against gravity and aids in maintaining bone density and strengthening our bones, which mainly refers to how our feet and legs sustain the weight of our body.
- Walking, dancing, traveling, low-impact aerobics, elliptical training machines, and stair climbing are a few examples of osteoporosis exercises. The health programs advise to walk at least 30-45 minutes daily to remain active.
3. Flexibility exercise
- Stretching our body and increasing the flexibility of muscle and joints increase muscle strength and maintain bone density.
- Flexibility is vital to stay active and fit throughout life.
- Tight muscles can cause strain and increase the risk of joint pain.
- Performing stretching after every workout for 10 minutes daily helps to increase mobility and flexibility between muscles and joints and reduces stiffness.
- Corner stretch, ankle and calf stretch, are a few examples. Hold for 20 –30 seconds after every stretch.
4. Balance exercise
- To increase grip strength, improve balance, and prevent falls, one should do balance exercises.
- It works on muscles and lower back and legs to keep you upright. These exercises are difficult but persistent efforts make exercise simple.
- After every week, gradually increase the number of repetitions to keep your body active.
- Examples of balance exercises are yoga, tai-chi, standing on one leg and raising another leg, balancing on the stability ball, and movement-based exercise.
- Do this exercise three times a week.
Exercises to avoid in osteoporosis:
People with osteoporosis should avoid few exercises which might cause severe injury or may worsen the bone conditions.
Following are some examples of exercise to avoid:
- Jumping, jogging, running, hooping on ropes and skipping
- Yoga pose that increase strain on muscle
- Rough sports like football which increases risk of falls
- Exercise that involves repeated forward and side bending like touching toes raise risks of fracture in spine
- High impact aerobics put more force on weaker bones
- Exercises that involve twisting the spine or rotating the trunk
Tips for exercising
- Do exercise according to your ability and tolerance
- Start with gradual warm-up, followed by gentle warm up
- Increase weight or resistance slowly
- Do exercise in controlled manner
- Keep breathing proper
- Always perform exercise in proper posture
- Avoid jerky and rapid movement
- Wear comfortable clothes and proper shoes
Osteoporosis is a major health problem in today's world, characterized by weakened bones, reduced bone density, and deteriorated bone tissue.
Lifestyle, diet, exercise, and medication therapy are the preventative measures for osteoporosis.
Exercise and physical activity are essential in reviving bone brittleness and are primarily suggested by therapists to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In osteoporotic patients, exercise helps in increasing bone density, muscle mass, and flexibility and reduces the risk of fracture.
Now that you know how to stay active with osteoporosis, give it a go! It’s never too late to change your lifestyle and take care of your bone health, protecting it from osteoporosis.
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- Benedetti MG, et al. The effectiveness of physical exercise on bone density in osteoporotic patients. BioMed research international. 2018 Oct;2018.
- Sözen T, et al. An overview and management of osteoporosis. European journal of rheumatology. 2017 Mar;4(1):46.
- Pouresmaeili F, et al. A comprehensive overview on osteoporosis and its risk factors. Therapeutics and clinical risk management. 2018; 14:2029.
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- Osteoporosis Available at Cleveland Clinic.
- Effective exercise for osteoporosis Available at Harvard Health
- Exercising with osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way Available at Mayo Clinic