Exercise is one of the best ways to increase your bone mass and maintain healthy bones. We want to be sure when starting an exercise program that we are doing so safely. If you have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis, learn what risks are involved and how to take preventative measures when beginning your exercise routine. Take care of your bones by using the following tips from our expert, Dr. Scott Weiss:
Osteoporosis is more common than it should be. Although we don’t know how to completely stop bone loss, we can take steps to prevent many of the fractures. Prevention starts in childhood, with good nutrition and exercise. Fall prevention is especially important in elderly persons. Sometimes doctors and their patients just want to take a medication for osteoporosis, without paying attention to these basic building blocks of bone health. The medications will not be as effective if there is inadequate calcium and vitamin D in the body. The other building blocks are proper exercise, weight gain and proper over all nutrition, caffeine reduction, smoking cessation and fall prevention in elderly.
Follow some of these general principals to ensure a safe & productive exercise program:
- Exercises that you can perform that are weight bearing in nature are the best (walking, dancing, hiking, stair-climbing). Stressing the bones through its long axis is optimal.
- Do not perform large impact activities that cause undue jarring to the spine.
- Resistance exercise can generate tension in the bones thus stimulating the bones to grow. This refers to training with either light weights or elastic bands.
- Bone density increases the most with higher weights and fewer repetitions.
- Increase your weight slowly and progress accordingly. Listen to your body.
- Postural exercises that help you become more upright can reduce stress on specific areas of the body.
- Balance exercises help maintain equilibrium and reduce the risk of falling. (Explore Tai-chi)
- Avoid movements to the end of your range (twisting, forward or backward bending).
- Most studies show that an exercise program of nine months in duration will produce the desired increase in bone mineral density.
- The frequency of exercise recommended is 3-5 days/week.
- Always warm-up and cool-down.
- During activities of daily living, become conscious of your positioning. Bend from the hips to bend down, don’t slouch when you sit and stabilize the lower back with your hand when sneezing or coughing.
- Remember: Small 10 minute bouts of activity have shown to be just as beneficial as one long bout of exercise.