What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease process that leads to bone loss throughout the body. As we age, a reduction in bone mass (density) is normal. However, some people have advanced stages of bone loss and develop osteoporosis. Women especially are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis. When people have reduced bone density, they are at high risk for developing fractures. Many people develop stress fracture in their spine from poor posture. A fall in a person with osteoporosis can be dangerous, as they may easily fracture their hip, wrist, shoulder or ankle.
Good news! There are exercises that help to increase bone density!
Many of my patients say their primary care doctor tell them to exercise, as this will help with their osteoporosis, but are not sure which exercises are best.
Weight bearing exercises, which mean putting your body weight through your joints, are the type of exercises that help to increase bone density.
When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, get out and walk! Walking on level surfaces is a great way to put weight through your joints and help increase bone density. Slowly build up your tolerance to speeds and distances. Biking and stair climbing are other great cardiovascular exercise, but walking is the gold standard for weight bearing exercise.
Weight Bearing Exercises
Try performing the following leg, arm and back exercises 3 times a week.
Place hands shoulder width apart. Lean towards the wall, keeping your back straight, and return to the starting position. Repeat 3 x 10.
Place hands shoulder width apart. Lean toward the supportive table, then return to neutral. Repeat 3 x 10.
Start in standing and slowly squat toward the chair, keeping your knees behind your toes and your glut pushed backwards. Return to normal standing position. Hold on to a supportive surface if needed for balance. Repeat 3 x 10.
Start by standing on the floor. Place the right leg on the step, followed by the left. Then place the right leg on the floor, followed by the left. Repeat 3 x 10 each side. Hold on to a supportive surface if needed for balance.
Kneeling Weight Shifts
Kneel on a soft surface. Shift your weight forward towards your hands, then back towards your knees. Repeat 3 x 10. You can also shift your weight side to side (right leg and arm, then left leg and arm). Make sure you are able to get down and up from the floor safely before performing this exercise.
Disclaimer: If you feel if you at risk for osteoporosis or have any other questions, contact your primary health care provider for further education and examination. If you have poor balance or feel unsteady on your feet, please be evaluated by your MD or physical therapist before initiating the above exercises. These are recommendations, not a prescription.