Lack of calcium, with its vitamin D counterpart to help absorb it, is one cause that leads to osteoporosis. Other contributing factors include exercise history, body frame, age, and genetics. Whether you already have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are trying to prevent its onset, it is never too late to take action (in the most literal sense).
No Excuses. Start an Exercise Program Now.
Exercise is one of the best ways to fight osteoporosis. Working out can help build bone density. Some experts even claim exercise can be effective in replacing bone mass already lost to this condition. If you’re 60+ years old, it’s not too late to start building bone and muscle. Actually, it’s a great time to build body strength for those big bear hugs from the grandkids. Something simple like bending over, lifting a suitcase, or coughing can result in a fracture for those with osteoporosis. The stronger you are, the more protected you’ll be from these often avoidable injuries.
Obviously, a lifelong commitment to exercise at an early age delivers the most benefits. However, exercise can help your bones no matter when you begin. Also, just because Mom, Grandmom, and Aunt Sally have osteoporosis does not seal your fate. Use this fact as a motivator for prevention, not an instigator to quit the fight before any battle may begin.
Recommended Fitness Routines
Regional Fitness Manager Doug Hatten recommends combining strength training, weight-bearing exercises, and stretches for the most effective workout.
Strength training helps muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine. Slowly introduce free weights and weight machines to your regimen. These methods also will focus directly on your bones to help decrease mineral loss.
Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine. “Regardless of your age, ability, or current fitness level, the training team can share exercises that provide the stimulation required to generate increased bone density,” Doug informs. For an exercise to be weight-bearing, the bones and joints should bear more weight than provided by normal bodyweight. This requires an external resistance, such as that gained through the use of dumbbells, barbells, or exercise equipment, to provide the load necessary to promote an increase in bone density.
Also, try a Group Fitness class, such as Group Power, Ramping, Ramp Strong, Group Active, or Muscle Definition. With the appropriate weights and instruction, these should be safe opportunities to help prevent or control osteoporosis. Classes like these can help build your bones through exercise, and camaraderie through a fun, supportive group environment.
Stretching increases flexibility. Moving joints through their full range-of-motion helps maintain good balance, avoid injury, and improve posture. Regional Group Fitness Director Cheryl Ziegler suggests a Gentle or Chair Yoga class, Pilates Mat class, or Pilates Reformer sessions. Avoid stretches that flex your spine or require you to bend at the waist.
Consult with the Center’s Fitness & Health Professionals
Cheryl reminds you that our fitness professionals are experienced at creating alternatives to movement based on each member’s specific needs. “Talk with them about how to adapt a particular exercise that might be too challenging or risky for your current bone structure,” Cheryl encourages. Of course, be sure to consult with our on-site health experts and your own physician about the best exercises for you.
In addition to the direct benefits for your bones, exercise can also help increase your overall sense of well-being. The ability to execute life’s daily activities with decreased pain, reduced chance of falls, and increased ease will help you hold your head high.
Bone Density Screenings
Bone loss often goes undetected until a bone breaks. Know your risks. Get regular bone density screenings. Experts suggest women begin screening every two years at age 65 and men at age 70. If other risk factors are present, such as smoking, start screening earlier.