For people with osteoporosis, one of the most common misconceptions about exercise is that it can lead to more fractures and bone damage. On the contrary, health professionals highly recommend exercise for people with osteoporosis because it helps stimulate bone formation and maintain bone mass and density.
If you or your loved one is looking for osteoporosis treatment or management or is at high risk of osteoporosis, it is important to consult with an Exercise Physiologist to guide you on the best exercises to reduce the loss of your bone mass.
Here at Healthstin, we have Allied Health Professionals who offer Exercise Physiology at our clinic location in Hurstville to deliver effective programs for improving your overall health and managing other forms of disabilities, including osteoporosis. We have aged care services in Hurstville that make use of exercise for people with osteoporosis. But what is osteoporosis? And how can exercise help in treating it?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the body’s bones, making the bones brittle and more prone to fractures. Osteoporosis occurs when the body can’t make enough minerals like calcium, which causes the bones to become less dense.
An estimated 940,000 Australians have osteoporosis., with men comprising one-third and women over 60 making up about half of this figure. Women are over twice as likely to have it than men because the hormonal changes that occur after menopause have a direct effect on bone density. The female hormone oestrogen is necessary for bone health. Oestrogen levels decline after menopause. This might result in a rapid loss of bone density.
While largely perceived as a “woman’s disease,” osteoporosis is also a cause of concern for men as a sizeable percentage of people who suffer from hip fractures is comprised of older men.
What are the risk factors of Osteoporosis?
The following are members of the population that may be at increased risk of osteoporosis:
- 50+ Caucasian and Asian women
- Men with low levels of testosterone – this hormone helps keep bones strong. Low levels of testosterone can put you at risk for osteoporosis.
- Smokers and heavy drinkers
- Bariatric surgery patients
- People weighing less than 125 pounds – a smaller frame and lower bone mass puts you at risk of lower bone mineral density that results from bone loss as you age
- People with a parent who had a history of hip fractures during their senior years
- People with inflammatory bowel disease, kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease, or eating disorder
- People who take oral corticosteroids or high-risk medications regularly
How to fight Osteoporosis?
Treatments for osteoporosis may involve the following:
- consuming calcium-rich foods: these healthy foods are great for keeping the bones healthy
- engaging in regular exercise: this can be effective for osteoporosis treatment and prevention
- stop smoking: cigarette smoking increases your risk of weakened bones
- limit alcohol intake: drinking too much alcohol is harmful to your bones
Recommended Exercises to Prevent Osteoporosis
Regular exercise, even without the symptoms of osteoporosis, helps with the maintenance of bone mass, builds muscle strength, and improves your balance. Here are some bone-strengthening exercises to help prevent osteoporosis:
- Balance and Proprioception Exercises: exercises that improve balance are crucial for bone health. Working on your balance can increase your stability and help you avoid falls, which is crucial because they can result in broken or fractured bones. Standing on one leg, doing yoga, and tai chi are all examples of balance exercises.
- Sports: sports such as tennis get your entire body moving and help with the development of bone strength for both legs and arms.
- Lunges: these are an excellent workout to help strengthen bone density as they engage the skeletal system with unfamiliar loading patterns. Lunges increase force by tugging at your bones from various angles, enhancing the impact when you step down into the lunge, increasing stress on your bones in a positive way.
- Weight Training: gradual weight exercises help with the development of both muscles and bones. Maintaining strong muscles also helps maintain balance and coordination, which helps prevent falls and fractures.
However, take note that each exercise may require precautions and professional guidance to avoid injuries.
Exercise for People with Osteoporosis
Due to some varying degrees of osteoporosis and fracture risks, performing exercises may be discouraging. This is why an Exercise Physiologist will help individualise programs depending on your abilities, goals, and level of confidence.
So, what activities should be avoided with osteoporosis? People with osteoporosis may have fragile bone density. Hence, exercises that involve extreme movements or high-impact loading should be avoided. You should also steer clear of doing any exercise or movement that may contribute to spinal fracture such as sit-ups , crunches, or bending to touch your toes.
Some of the exercises that may be included in the treatment and management of osteoporosis include the following:
- Strength Training Exercises
All main muscle groups can be strengthened through strength training, notably the spinal muscles that are crucial for posture. Maintaining bone density can also be aided by resistance training. Avoid twisting your spine awkwardly when using weight equipment, conducting workouts, or making adjustments.
- Weight-Bearing Aerobic Activities
Aerobic exercises that entail weight bearing require standing while carrying your weight on your bones. Walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical machines, stair climbing, and gardening are a few examples. These exercises can help slow down mineral loss by directly affecting the bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine. What’s more, they have benefits for the heart and blood vessels that make the circulatory system healthier.
- Flexibility Exercises
Your muscles will continue to function well if you move your joints through their range of motion. The optimal time to stretch is after you warm up, such as after your workout or during a 10-minute warm-up. They ought to be carried out slowly and carefully without bouncing.
- Stability and Balance Exercises
Stability and balance exercises are effective preventive and therapeutic measures against osteoporosis. They help your muscles cooperate, making you less likely to fall.
- Swimming and Water Exercises
Working in a water-based environment can increase your muscular strength and cardiovascular health. People with severe osteoporosis or kyphosis (a hunched-over upper back) and a high risk of bone fractures may prefer swimming or water exercise. Weight-bearing exercises and strength training are two of the best forms of exercise that can help treat and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. You can create routines with the assistance of an Exercise Physiologist who has worked with osteoporosis patients in the past. Your EP will also teach you the proper form and technique to help you minimise injuries and get the most out of your workouts.
Note: The information is general and does not take into account your personal situation. This information is intended to show you the correct exercise technique and should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat any medical condition. If your pain persists or you have difficulty performing exercise, see your experienced Exercise Physiologist for proper guidance via 1300 090 931.
Benefits of Exercise for Your Body
Two of the main causes of osteoporosis are an inactive lifestyle and poor muscle development and balance. Exercise can make big changes in your body that will not only help you get healthy bones but also improve your health in many ways such as:
- Improved physical fitness
- Improvement in muscle strength
- Increase in mobility
- Improvement of mood
- Better sense of balance
Exercise can help with the prevention of osteoporosis and other illnesses that may affect your physical health and other forms of injuries. It is also instrumental in treating and managing various disabilities.
One of the best ways to treat and prevent osteoporosis is to do balance and weight-bearing exercises and eat healthy foods such as:
- eat calcium-rich foods as part of a general healthy diet which includes fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
- absorb enough vitamin D
- avoid smoking and
- limit alcohol consumption
- Do regular weight-bearing and strength-training activities
Osteoporosis Exercise Treatment
Exercises that are good for people with osteoporosis include weight-bearing, impact loading exercise such as dancing. resistance training using free weights such as dumbbells and barbells, elastic band resistance, body-weight resistance or weight-training machines.
Customised exercise plans that include strength training can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and improve bone density. They can also reduce the risk of falls.
Let our Exercise Physiologists help you build up your bone health with Exercise
Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) play a crucial role in treating and preventing osteoporosis. Our Healthstin AEPs assist people with disabilities and various health conditions to commence and maintain a regular exercise routine. They make plans to suit your current abilities and work with your healthcare team for a holistic approach to your program.
Apart from a well-equipped gym for land-based training, we also offer hydrotherapy in Hurstville. This is one of the most effective exercises for people with severe osteoporosis. Our certified Exercise Physiologists are experts in giving people with a wide range of long-term conditions, injuries, illnesses, and disabilities individualised exercise programs in a hydrotherapy pool. Sessions in a hydrotherapy pool can be one-on-one or in a group. The buoyancy of the water can help improve balance, increase range of motion, reduce pain, and build strength.
At Healthstin, we have a team of Allied Health Professionals who have a combined experience of over 20 years of helping people with exercise programs to better manage and treat injuries, disabilities, and chronic conditions such as osteoporosis. Chat with one of our Exercise Physiologists today via 1300 090 931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Exercise has many benefits for people of any age and functional capacity. Preventing and managing osteoporosis through physical activity interventions are two of them. Maintaining bone strength and density is vital for everyone, especially older adults who are most susceptible to developing osteoporosis. It’s never too late to start exercising as even people who already have the disease stand to benefit much from regular physical activity.