Don’t let fear of fractures keep you from having a healthy fitness routine.
If you have osteoporosis—a condition where the body loses too much or makes too little bone tissue—the thought of getting regular exercise may seem out of reach, frightening, or counterintuitive. Lift weights? No way, I’ll break a bone!
In fact, one of the biggest myths about osteoporosis is that skipping out on exercise will help keep your bones healthy and intact. Having a regular fitness routine is actually one of the most important things you can do to prevent and treat osteoporosis. (Learn more about how exercise is essential for osteoporosis here.)
Even though exercise with osteoporosis only modestly affects your bone mineral density, it has a huge effect on strength, flexibility, and balance—all of which keep you upright and sturdy. This can help prevent falls and potentially life-threatening fractures.
While not all exercises are safe for people with osteoporosis, there are a lot of moves that are. “There are many safe exercises that you can do with osteoporosis … that will keep your bones strong, and [help you] keep your balance and posture strong as well” says Joan Pagano, an exercise physiologist in New York City.
So what does a safe fitness routine for osteoporosis look like? Here are four essential rules to live by when exercising for osteoporosis:
RULE #1. Keep your health care provider in the loop.
To ensure you’re working your body safely and effectively, it’s important to know what areas of your body have been affected by osteoporosis by getting a bone density test. “Is it in your spine? Is it in your hip? Is it in your wrist? That will inform an exercise program,” says Pagano.
For example, if you have osteoporosis in your spine, you’ll want to find a modification for any exercises that require a rounding of the spine, such as toe touches. (Here are more off-limit exercises for people with osteoporosis—and what to do instead.)
You may also consider consulting with an exercise specialist to learn how to progress in your exercise program safely (i.e., when and how much to increase weights), stretch and strengthen your muscles, and correct poor posture. They can also help you find the best workouts for you based on your bone mineral density results.
RULE #2. Warm up and cool down before and after every workout.
“It’s important when you’re exercising to [start] every workout with a little warm-up,” says Pagano. A warm-up is any light activity—such as walking or stretching—that gets your blood pumping and prepares your muscles and joints for more intense activity, she says. “If you don’t [warm up], you could injure yourself.”
When your workout is coming to an end, it’s also important to cool down. “Cooling down is important so that you ease yourself out of an exercise session,” says Pagano. This can help you avoid any dizziness from stopping too quickly.
RULE #3. Start slowly and work your way up.
If you’re exercising at a higher intensity than your body is ready for, it can create a jarring effect to the skeleton, which may actually injure your bones, says Pagano.
When beginning a new exercise routine with osteoporosis, start with light weights and a few repetitions, and build up from there. “You need to have a gradual progression as you increase your weights and only go to a level that is comfortable for your joints,” says Pagano. “We need to protect the joints as much as we need to protect the bones.”
RULE #4. Listen to your body.
Listening to your body means tuning in so you get to know your body and the signals it’s sending, says Pagano.
When starting an exercise routine, you may have some muscle soreness and discomfort, but it shouldn’t be seriously painful or last more than 48 hours. “If you start experiencing pain in any part of your body, you may be doing an exercise that’s not good for you,” says Pagano.
If you have any pain or discomfort, see your doctor or exercise physiologist before your next exercise session.
“If you get a diagnosis of osteoporosis, it can be quite daunting and even scary, but please know that there are many exercises that you can benefit from that will improve your health,” says Pagano.
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There are many safe exercises that
you can do with osteoporosis and
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that you will benefit from, and
that will keep your bones strong,
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and keep your balance, and
posture strong as well.
00:00:15,477 --> 00:00:21,447
00:00:21,447 --> 00:00:22,827
If you have osteoporosis,
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it's important to know what areas
of the body have been affected.
00:00:26,189 --> 00:00:27,190
Is it in your spine?
00:00:27,190 --> 00:00:28,314
Is it in your hip?
00:00:28,314 --> 00:00:29,276
Is it in your wrist?
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Because that will inform
an exercise program.
00:00:32,548 --> 00:00:36,295
If it is in your spine, we definitely
wanna avoid any spinal flexion
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which is a rounding of
the upper part of the spine.
00:00:39,071 --> 00:00:42,949
It exerts a lot of force on
the weakened vertebra of the spine.
00:00:42,949 --> 00:00:47,173
If it's your hip, you really do
need to do weight-bearing exercise.
00:00:47,173 --> 00:00:49,880
Weight-bearing means that
you're actually bearing
00:00:49,880 --> 00:00:52,294
your body weight against
the force of gravity.
00:00:52,294 --> 00:00:54,634
So any time you are on your feet,
00:00:54,634 --> 00:00:59,747
you are resisting the force of gravity,
so that you don't fall down,
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unless it's so severe that your risk
of falling is really a concern.
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Other types of exercise like
water aerobics or swimming or
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biking which are considered
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would be recommended to reduce your
risk of falling and fracturing that hip.
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It's important when you're exercising to
do every workout with a little warm up.
00:01:21,834 --> 00:01:26,005
Something to get your circulation
going and prepare the joints for
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more intense activity.
00:01:27,576 --> 00:01:30,139
If you don't do it,
you could injure yourself.
00:01:30,139 --> 00:01:36,489
Cooling down is important, so that you
ease yourself out of the exercise session.
00:01:36,489 --> 00:01:41,474
If you've been doing weight-bearing
cardio, you don't wanna stop suddenly when
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the blood may not return to your heart and
lungs and you may get dizzy.
00:01:45,560 --> 00:01:49,404
If you have osteoporosis and
you are working too hard, you're working
00:01:49,404 --> 00:01:53,193
at a high-level of intensity or
you're doing high impact exercise.
00:01:53,193 --> 00:01:57,021
Creating a jarring effect to the skeleton,
you can actually injure your bones.
00:01:57,021 --> 00:02:01,303
You need to have a gradual progression
as you increase your weights and
00:02:01,303 --> 00:02:04,652
only go to a level that is comfortable for
00:02:04,652 --> 00:02:08,137
We need to protect the joints as much
as we need to protect the bones.
00:02:08,137 --> 00:02:11,624
Listening to your body
means really tuning in, so
00:02:11,624 --> 00:02:17,197
that you get to know your body and you get
to know the signals that it's sending.
00:02:17,197 --> 00:02:18,433
You should not be exhausted.
00:02:18,433 --> 00:02:20,198
You should be able to get through the day.
00:02:20,198 --> 00:02:23,630
If you start experiencing pain
in any part of your body,
00:02:23,630 --> 00:02:26,928
you may be doing an exercise
that's not good for you.
00:02:26,928 --> 00:02:31,780
It's much better to start simply than to
overload yourself with too many exercises
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where number one, it's gonna be
difficult to keep up with them.
00:02:35,606 --> 00:02:38,033
And number two,
if they should trigger a problem,
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you're not gonna know
what caused the problem.
00:02:40,356 --> 00:02:45,624
If you get a diagnosis of osteoporosis,
it can be quite daunting and even scary.
00:02:45,624 --> 00:02:50,632
But please know that there are many,
many exercises that you will benefit
00:02:50,632 --> 00:02:55,908
from that will improve your health and
you'll be healthier because of them.
00:02:55,908 --> 00:03:00,244
Invest in your bones. International Osteoporosis Foundation. (Accessed on Feb 14, 2019 at https://www.iofbonehealth.org/sites/default/files/PDFs/WOD%20Reports/move_it_or_lose_it_en.pdf)
Osteoporosi Exercise for Strong Bones. National Osteoporosis Foundation. (Accessed on Feb 14, 2019 at https://www.nof.org/patients/fracturesfall-prevention/exercisesafe-movement/osteoporosis-exercise-for-strong-bones)