Osteoporosis Exercises

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Many people think that exercising will increase fractures in the bone. But it actually does the opposite – exercising uses the muscles to help protect the bones. However, you must know what kind of exercising will be best for you. There are three main categories of exercising that are highly beneficial for those with osteoporosis:

Strength training

Strength training includes the use of free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or water exercises to strengthen the muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine. Strength training can also work directly on your bones to slow mineral loss.

Compression fractures resulting from osteoporosis often lead to a stooped posture and increased pressure along your spine, resulting in even more compression fractures. Exercises that gently stretch your upper back improve your posture and strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades. These types of exercise can help to reduce harmful stress on your bones and maintain bone density.

Weight-bearing aerobic activities

Weight-bearing aerobic activities involve doing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics and gardening. These types of exercise work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss. They can also provide aerobic benefits, such as reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Swimming and water aerobics have many benefits, but they don't have the impact your bones need to slow mineral loss. In cases of extreme osteoporosis or during rehabilitation following a fracture, however, these activities can be useful.

Flexibility exercises

These exercises help increase the mobility of your joints, another key component of overall fitness. Being able to bend, extend and rotate your joints helps you prevent muscle injury. Increased flexibility can also help improve your posture. When your joints are stiff, your abdominal and chest muscles become tight, pulling you forward and giving you a stooped posture. Chest and shoulder stretches may be helpful, as may prone push-ups.

Stretches are best performed after your muscles are warmed up — at the end of your exercise session, for example. They should be done gently and slowly, without bouncing. Relax and breathe deeply while you stretch. Avoid stretches that flex your spine or cause you to bend at the waist. These positions may put excessive stress on the bones in your spine (vertebrae), placing you at greater risk of a compression fracture. Ask your doctor which stretching exercises would be best for you.