If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia you may have some reservations about starting an exercise program, but staying active is the best thing that you can do to maintain bone mass, reduce risk for falls and fractures and continue to do the things you love.
Exercise is important for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, a regular workout program can help maintain bone mass. Weight-bearing exercises that challenge your body to work against gravity are recommended. Your bones react to the weight on them by building themselves up and getting stronger.
A regular, properly designed exercise program can help to increase balance, coordination, strength and mobility which can help prevent falls and fractures and make you feel better with daily activity. If exercise is new to you, start slowly and gradually increase you time and intensity. Your exercise should include the following:
- Mobility exercises like stretching or yoga can help to keep your muscles and joints feel more limber. Minimizing extreme positions of forward bending and twisting is recommended
- Low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as walking, low-impact aerobics, elliptical trainers or stair step machines are usually recommended over high impact exercise such as jogging, jumping rope, high impact aerobics and tennis. Aerobic exercise is recommended 3-5 times per week.
- Strength exercises utilizing your own body weight, hand weights, weight machines or resistance bands are recommended 2-3 times per week working to strengthen all muscle groups
- Balance exercises can help with fall prevention and improve your stability and balance. Simple balance exercises like standing on one foot or movement based exercises like tai chi are good options
A physical therapist may be helpful in putting together an exercise program if you are new to exercise or have any pain associated with exercise. Check with your doctor for specific recommendations based on your diagnosis and health history. Exercise is just part of the treatment for osteoporosis. Your doctor may also recommend changes to your diet, supplements or medication that can help.
Previously posted November 13, 2019, updated March 2022
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