Two kinds of exercises â€” weight-bearing and resistance â€” play an important role in osteoporosis prevention. But you need to do them consistently if you want to reap their benefits; exercising infrequently won't improve your bone health. On the other hand, you don't need to spend hours at the gym to get results â€” just 30 minutes of exercise a day can boost your bone strength.Weight-bearing exercise
Any exercise that involves working against gravity â€” such as running, playing soccer, walking, and climbing stairs â€” is weight-bearing and can improve bone strength. Each step or landing from a jump puts stress on your bones, and they respond to this force by getting stronger. The higher the impact, the greater the benefits. Therefore, activities such as tennis, volleyball, or running build bone faster than walking or low-impact aerobics. While swimming and bicycling are excellent ways to keep fit, they aren't weight-bearing, so they won't improve your bone mass or density.
Even people who already have osteoporosis can benefit from gentle weight-bearing exercise. If you have osteoporosis and want to begin an exercise program, talk to your doctor about the types of activity that are right for you. Certain activities, such as skating or skiing, may pose a hazard to fragile bones, since falling is common. Also wear protective clothing and, if possible, work out with a companion.Exercising with weights
Your routine should also include strength-training exercises, which are exercises that build muscle by harnessing resistance â€” that is, an opposing force that the muscles must strain against. Resistance can be supplied by free weights such as dumbbells or by weighted cuffs, elasticized bands, or special machines.
Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show that it can even build bone. When it targets the bones of the hips, spine, and wrist, which are the most vulnerable to fracture, strength training can have benefits beyond those offered by aerobic weight-bearing exercise. In addition, these kinds of workouts can enhance strength and stability, which may help you avoid falls.
Generally, when beginning a strength-training program, start with a weight that you can comfortably lift for 8â€“12 repetitions; the last one or two repetitions should be difficult. When you can comfortably perform 12 reps without completely tiring the muscle, it's time to increase the amount of weight you're using. It's important to continue to add weight whenever it becomes easy to do 12 repetitions, because lighter weights will not effectively slow osteoporosis. Most sporting goods stores sell dumbbells with adjustable weights, as well as wrist and ankle bands that fasten with Velcro and have pockets for weights. Look for sets that allow you to add weights in half- to one-pound increments.
If you already have osteoporosis or have been sedentary for some time, talk with your doctor before beginning strength training. You may need to adapt certain exercises to make them safe or avoid them altogether. For example, in order to protect your spine, you should forgo exercises and machines that put added stress on the spine, such as some leg press machines, leg raises performed lying down, and squats done with weight bars resting on the shoulders. And you may need to choose abdominal exercises that lift the head and neck just a few inches rather than bringing your trunk to your knees.
In addition, you may want to work out with a trainer at first to ensure that you are holding weights safely and using them correctly.
|Vibrating platforms may help those who are unable to exercise |
Several studies suggest that standing on a special, gently oscillating mechanical plate for 10â€“20 minutes a day can reduce bone loss and increase bone mineral density. This therapy could be helpful for people who are too frail or incapacitated to exercise. But more study will be needed before the long-term safety and effectiveness of this therapy can be firmly established. In the meantime, people who are unable to exercise on their own should engage in traditional rehabilitation programs.
Strength and Power Training
As you age, muscle tissue and strength dwindles, but weight or strength training can reverse this process. It can also lighten your heart's workload, boost levels of good cholesterol, help prevent and treat diabetes, ease stiffness from arthritis, lead to weight loss, and improve your mobility. Strength and Power Training: A guide for adults of all ages is a special health report from Harvard Medical School that answers your strength training questions and helps you develop a program that's right for you. It includes more than 25 illustrated strength training exercises with step-by-step instructions, as well as information on choosing weights and strength training equipment, avoiding injury, and stretching.
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