Preventing Osteoporosis Through Exercise

About ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass (osteopenia). A disease without symptoms, osteoporosis affects about 20 percent of men and 80 percent of women.

Because the bones gradually become weaker, they will probably break in a minor fall or, if left untreated, even from simple things like a sneeze.  The most common fracture sites include the hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in the body can be affected.

A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis could be scary, leading some people to quit exercise due to fear it will cause fractures. 

The reality is that those with low bone mass should make sure to exercise often. Being active may not simply aid the prevention of osteoporosis, but slow bone loss once it has already begun.  Before beginning a training program, it is important to talk with a medical expert for guidelines, as degree of bone loss determines exactly what workout is best.  Physicians can assess bone mineral density and fracture risk by scanning the body by using a special kind of X-ray machine.

As well as exercise, treatment may include dietary modifications and/or estrogen replacement therapy.  The more you know concerning this condition, the more you can do to help prevent its onset.

To create strength and bone mass, both weight-bearing and resistance training exercises are ideal.

Weight-bearing workouts are those that require the bones to fully support your weight against gravity.  Examples are walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing or using an elliptical machine.  Non-weight bearing exercises include biking, swimming, water aerobics and rowing.  Weight-bearing activities such as walking as little as 3 x per week will benefit the bones.

Resistance training places mechanical force (stress) on our bodies, which in turn increases bone mineral density.  Start by lifting light weights, moving in a slow and controlled manner, increasing resistance when you become stronger.

It is usually highly recommended that individuals with osteoporosis avoid the following kinds of activity:

  • Step aerobics and high-impact activities including running, jumping, tennis.
  • Activities that involve rounding, bending and twisting on the spine.
  • Moving the legs sideways or across the body, particularly when performed against resistance.
  • Rowing machines, trampolines.
  • Any kind of movement that involves pulling on the head and neck.
Exercise Tips:
  • Even if you don’t have osteoporosis, you should seek advice from your health care provider prior to starting a fitness program.
  • Remember to warm-up before starting and cool down at the conclusion of each exercise session.
  • To find the best benefit to your bone health, combine several different weight-bearing exercises.
  • When you build strength, increase resistance, or weights, instead of repetitions.
  • Remember to drink a lot of water whenever exercising.
  • Vary the types of exercise that you try every week.
  • Combine weight bearing and resistance exercise with aerobic exercises to help increase your overall health.
  • Bring your friend along to help you continue or better yet, bring your family and encourage them to be healthy.
  • Add more physical activity in your day; take the stairs vs. the elevator, park further way, and walk to your co-worker’s office instead of emailing.
Put LIVE into action!

L – Load or weight-bearing exercises make a difference to your bones

I – Intensity builds stronger bones.

V – Vary the kinds of exercise and your routine to keep interested.

E – Enjoy your exercises. Make exercise fun so you will continue in to the future!

Specific factors boost the probability of developing osteoporosis.  While a few of these risk factors are controllable, others are not.  Risk factors that could be controlled are: Sedentary lifestyle, excess intake of protein, sodium, caffeine and/or alcohol, smoking, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies and taking certain medicines.  Body size (small frame), gender, family history and ethnicity are risk factors that cannot be controlled.  Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause, which makes them more vunerable to osteoporosis. 

It is never too soon to start considering bone density. 
  • About 85-90 % of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. 
  • Nutrition and Exercise are critical for Healthy Bones in childhood and Adolescence
  • Much of the reserve of healthy bone is built in youth and before the age of 30.
  • Women may be more susceptible to an inadequate foundation process at this time than men.
  • Sufficient calcium intake,a balanced diet with a lot of fruit and veggies and load-bearing exercise will be the recommendations for solid bone growth when you’re young.

Even if you do each of the right things while maturing and into adulthood, your inherited characteristics- your genes -can present you with bones that are susceptible to osteoporosis. This is even greater reason to maximize your lifestyle to prevent poor bone health.

Writer’s note: The info provided on this article are designed to support, not substitute, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician.

Michelle Aultman writes for the elliptical machine blog, her personal hobby blog dedicated to guidelines to prevent osteoporosis trough fitness at home.  She has no professional intent and does not accept direct source of advertising coming from health or pharmaceutical firms, doctors or clinics and websites. All content provided by her is based on her editorial judgment and is not driven by an advertising purpose.


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