Keeping your bones strong is an incredibly important part of your overall health.
Your skeleton is responsible for keeping you upright, and it gives your body structure.
Dealing with broken bones means you might be out of commission for handling all those day-to-day things for months until you are properly healed.
Let’s look at how exercise can help keep your bones strong, what exercises are best for helping to maintain bone density, and some exercises to avoid if you’re dealing with weak or brittle bones due to conditions such as osteoporosis.
What Is Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects your bones and makes them brittle and more susceptible to fracture.
Often times, people will not realize they have osteoporosis until AFTER they suffer a bone break or fracture. However, if you have the following symptoms it could be a sign of this disease:
- Low back pain
- Abnormal spinal curvature
- Poor posture
- Losing height
- Bones that break easily
Risk Factors For Osteoporosis
Certain factors can increase the risk of osteoporosis, including:
- Having a family history of osteoporosis
- Age: the risk increases as you get older
- Sex: women are at higher risk than men of developing osteoporosis
- Race: Asian people and white people are at higher risk
- Body frame: Individuals with small body frames have a higher risk because they tend to have lower bone density
How Exercise Can Help You Avoid Osteoporosis
From its positive effects on mood and stress to cardiovascular health, there are a million reasons to exercise.
Let’s look at a few benefits of exercise for individuals with osteoporosis in particular:
Preserve Bone Density
Just as you can strengthen your muscles through exercise, bone tissue also becomes stronger when you exercise.
Typically bone density peaks during your thirties, and then as you age further you risk losing bone density.
Because bone is living tissue, it responds to the force placed on it when you exercise and adapts by creating more bone tissue and improving bone density.
Exercising improves your bone density and decreases the risks of broken and brittle bones as you age.
Reduce The Chance Of Fractures From Falls
Regular exercise can help to maintain coordination, balance, and muscle strength.
All of these factor into helping reduce the chance of falling, which often results in broken bones.
Some other benefits of exercise include:
- Reduces pain
- Better mood
- Improve mobility
- Greater muscle strength and overall fitness
- Increased reaction time
- Increased coordination and balance
What Kind Of Exercise Should I Do?
If you have osteoporosis or any other health conditions including diabetes, hypertension, or heart issues, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
What to include when planning your exercise:
- Your age
- Any medications you’re taking
- Your current fitness level
- How severe your osteoporosis is
- Other medical conditions
- What your goals are; preventing falls or improving bone density
Some exercises that are generally considered safe for individuals with osteoporosis include:
- Weight bearing exercises which that against gravity, such as walking, jogging and hiking; if you are already accustomed to walking regularly, increase the difficulty by upping your pace, increasing the length of your walks, or trying more challenging terrain such as hiking trails.
- Aerobics, such as taking a virtual dance class through a platform such as FitIn
- Resistance training, which could incorporate resistance bands, dumbbells, and bodyweight exercises
- Stretching exercises to help increase flexibility, reduce tightness, and promote good posture
In addition, although swimming and water aerobics are not weight bearing exercises, individuals who have a high risk of bone fracture due to more severe osteoporosis may find these exercises to be more desirable.
How Much Exercise Do I Need?
If you’re just starting out with an exercise program, it’s important not to overdo it.
The perfect amount of exercise will differ from person to person, however, some good guidelines to follow are:
- Start with 30 minutes of light activity such as walking daily
- Incorporating balance exercises for a few minutes twice a week – these should be challenging, but be sure to have something you can hold on to in order to prevent falls
- Add stretches to help improve flexibility
- Aim to do resistance exercises two to three times per week, to strengthen the limbs and core
- Listen to your body – if you experience pain or soreness, give yourself time to rest. If this discomfort continues, speak to your doctor
If I Have Osteoporosis, What Exercise Should I Avoid?
Exercise is extremely important for bone strength and density, however, if you have osteoporosis, there are certain exercises that you should avoid.
Certain types of exercise can increase your risk for experiencing a bone break or fracture, especially if your bones are already frail and losing density.
Activities to avoid include:
- High impact exercises, including running and exercises that involve jumping
- Activities where your risk of falling is high such as skiing, skating, and contract sports
- Bending and twisting, such as sit ups, toe touches, some yoga and Pilates poses
No matter what stage of life you’re in, exercise is important to maintaining bone density and helping to keep you strong and healthy.
Get moving today, to help you stay mobile for years to come.