Osteoporosis is a common medical problem. Lifestyle measures to prevent or help treat existing osteoporosis often only receive lip service. The evidence for the role of exercise in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis is reviewed.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an exercise plan for osteoporosis should include the following:
These are activities you do while on your feet that work large muscle groups while you support your weight against the pull of gravity. They slow bone loss in the legs, spine, and hips.
Weight-bearing exercise include brisk walking, jogging, dancing, tennis, and step aerobics.
Higher-impact activities such as jogging and tennis provide greater stimulation to the bones but can be risky if bones are severely weakened or falls are likely.
For lower-impact alternatives to running or step aerobics, try machines such as elliptical trainers or stair-steppers
In resistance exercise, the muscles contract against a force that can come from the weight of your body, free weights, elastic bands, or exercise machines. Resistance exercise is especially useful for strengthening the muscles that attach to your hips and spine, including those in the legs and upper, and lower back.
Core muscles attach to your spine, pelvis and shoulders, providing the stability you need to stand upright and maintain good posture. When both your ore and leg muscles are strong, falls are less likely. Avoid core exercises such as sit-ups and elbow-to-knee crunches, which require that you bend the spine forward or bend and twist at the same time. Alternatives that work the abdominal muscles but keep the spine in a neutral position include the “Dead bug” and “Forearm plank”.
Being able to move your joints through their full range of motion is important for keeping your balance and avoiding falls. Activities such as swimming and tai chi can help maintain or improve joint flexibility. Yoga can also be beneficial, but you should work with an instructor familiar with osteoporosis in order to avoid or modify postures that involve twists and forward bends. Occasionally, stretching too far can cause an avulsion fracture – a piece of bone breaking off at the point where a tendon or ligament attaches. These are uncommon in healthy adults because bone is usually stronger than other connective tissues, and because you will usually notice the plain before you’ve stretched far enough to cause-damage.
Improving your balance is an important away to prevent falls and fractures. Balance exercise strengthen muscles and enhance the body’s perception of its position. So does tai chi, a series of movements that require you to shit your weight continually.