Exercise for Osteoporosis ABC radio interview with Jen Fleming and Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist 17 January 2013. The following exercise for osteoporosis Physiotherapist information includes:
- Weight bearing exercise for osteoporosis
- Resistance training exercise for osteoporosis
- Falls reduction exercise for osteoporosis
- Hip and spine strength exercises from this ABC interview and osteoporosis exercises to watch now
- Where to find more information and exercise for osteoporosis.
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Exercise for Osteoporosis
Bone is living tissue and is constantly being remodelled in your body. Exercise for stronger bones needs to be appropriate bone loading exercise. Bone loading exercises stimulate bone remodelling new bone growth can be promoted. If bones are not loaded, for example with prolonged bed rest, bone tissue is resorbed by the body and bones become thinner and weaken.
There are 2 main types of exercise that load bones to improve or maintain bone density:
1. Weight Bearing Exercises
Exercises that involve weight bearing through your feet that create something called a ‘ground reaction force’. When your heel strikes the ground, a force is actually transmitted back through your bones from the ground. If the force is sufficient to load your bones, it can improve bone health.
Weight bearing exercises that are known to load bones and promote bone density include:
- Brisk walking
A variety of weight bearing exercises for bone health should be performed regularly (at least 3-5 times a week for healthy adults). These exercises can be gradually progressed over time to increase physical challenge and optimize the loading of bones (e.g. degree of difficulty, height of jumps).
These moderate to high impact exercises listed above are not suitable to individuals with a high risk of osteoporosis – related fracture. If this applies to you, speak with your doctor or physiotherapist about appropriate lower impact weight bearing exercises for your bone health.
Unfortunately some common place exercises won’t load bones sufficiently to improve bone density despite their wonderful benefits including cardiovascular health and fitness. Exercises such a leisurely walking, swimming or cycling will not increase your bone density however they may be included in a bone health program to strengthen legs, reduce the risk of falls and help bone fracture rehabilitation.
2. Resistance Exercises
Resistance exercises are specific exercises that involve using your muscles against a load. When your muscles contract against resistance, they exert a force upon your bones in and around where the muscles attach. If the load is sufficient, then bones can strengthen and thicken in response.
Resistance Exercise for bone health in healthy adults should be:
- Regular for ongoing stimulus for bone remodelling (2-3 alternate days a week)
- Specific to the particular areas of the body that are most ‘at risk’ of osteoporosis fracture (i.e. hips, spine, pelvis, upper arms and wrists. It is important to exercise these areas of the body since resistance training benefits are specific to those areas exercised for example hip bone strength will be promoted by exercising the muscles around the hip joint
- Include exercises for the hip, knee, spine and forearm muscle groups of the body with a special focus upon postural muscles, spinal extensors and deep abdominal core stabilising muscles.
- Sufficient to load bones with emphasis upon safe bone loading using appropriate levels of resistance and good lifting technique. An initial period of low loading familiarisation with resistance exercises precedes bone loading exercise with approximately 2 sets of 8-10 repetitions of increasingly heavier loads.
- Regularly progressed over time to provide continued stimulus for new bone growth.
Resistance exercise for osteoporosis, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis should be prescribed by a Physiotherapist based upon an individual assessment of your risks and needs.
3. Exercises to Reduce Falls
Falls are a very common cause of fracture in osteoporosis. The risk of falls increases along with the risk of osteoporosis with increasing age. Falls prevention programs should include exercises to help reduce the risk of falls, especially in individuals with increased risk of osteoporosis-related fracture.
Exercises to prevent falls in osteoporosis include:
- Specific and progressive balance exercises e.g. standing on one leg, heel to toe walking, raising onto the balls of the feet (calf raises), standing eyes closed. These exercises should be supervised and progressed by a Physiotherapist in individuals with poor balance or established osteoporosis.
- Calf stretching exercises since tight and shortened calf muscles can cause falls
- Leg strengthening exercises to improve balance
- Tai Chi
Exercises to Avoid With Osteoporosis
- High impact weight bearing exercises e.g. jumping
- Sudden explosive exercises
- Spinal twisting exercises e.g. golf
- Dynamic abdominal exercises e.g. sit ups, double leg raise exercises
- Trunk bending exercises e.g. leaning forward at the hips and lifting, leg press in the gym
- Lifting greater than 10kg in established osteoporosis
Exercise for Osteoporosis From Radio Interview to Watch Now
- Hip and Spine Strength Exercises pdf written guidelines from ABC radio interview
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Hips Video watch now
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Spine Strength Video watch now
- How to Strengthen Your Lower Back Video watch now.
For More Information About Exercise for Osteoporosis
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support.