Exercises to Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Fitness / February 19, 2010

Exercises to Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Every year millions of people, mainly post-menopausal women, are diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disease where bones become very porous, break easily, and heal slowly. It is estimated that this condition causes more than 1.5 million bone fractures each year, particularly in the spine, hip and wrist.

Here are some exercises to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures:

Video Transcription

Hi, I’m Robin Stuhr with the American Council on Exercise with some important information about exercise and bone health.

Did you know that half of all women and up to 20 percent of men will have an osteoporotic fracture sometime in their lifetime? Osteoporosis is a disease that’s characterized by low bone mass or density and poor bone strength. And common sites for osteoporotic fracture include the wrists, hip, and the spine. But the good news is that we can prevent osteoporosis by the right kinds of exercise and a good diet. Now there are two types of exercise that are critical for healthy bones.

The first is strength training, or resistance exercise, and the second is weight-bearing exercise, particularly jumping or plyometric types of exercise. Now when it comes to a strength training program, a well-rounded program is essential because exercise is site specific when it comes to the bone’s adaptation.

So the muscles pull on their bony attachments, stimulating the bone to grow in that particular bone. So a well-rounded program, particularly using free weights, is terrific because you’re standing and using the muscles in the legs to push into the ground for balance, and the muscles along the spine are activated for balancing and stabilizing.

For example, a lunge, whether done in the reverse position, which you see here, or walking, involves the legs and when she adds the dumbbells, involves the arms. It’s important to keep your shoulders relaxed, your stomach pulled up and in, and keep the front knee over the foot. Don’t let it go beyond the toes.

Jumping activities are great for building bone strength in the hip. However, if you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, do not do these kinds of activities. You can start with something simple, such as a side to side one-footed hop, making sure that you land softly on the ball of the feet, and pretending like the floor is hot so you spring up as quickly as you can.

You can then move to something like two-footed jumping. Starting with your feet shoulder width apart, bringing your arms back, and jumping up as high as you can, trying to get height and strength with the jump. And again, pretend like the floor is hot.

You can then transition to diagonal jumps because this surprises the bone with different trajectories of force and can improve bone strength. Make sure that your client keeps their knees over their feet and lands soft with the stomach pulled in and tight.

A more advanced exercise involves jumping off of a box. Explosively going as high as you can but being soft on the landing with the knees over the toes. This is great for kids and young healthy adults to really improve that hipbone mineral density.

Now with all of these jumping exercises, you want to start off with just five to ten repetitions and build up to 50 to 100, three times a week, using a lot of variety and changes of direction, different angles, different types of jumps, two-footed, as well as one-footed.

Another exercise that is great for posture and the spine is the upright row. Make sure you keep your shoulders down and relaxed, squeeze the scapula together as you pull the weights back, and keep the core activated pulling the tummy in. You can also bring the legs into the picture by doing a partial squat, making sure the buttocks goes out and back first as you initiate the movement and keeping the knees over the feet.

Although you’ll see the greatest adaptations to bone strength from high intensity, high challenge strength training, and high impact, lots of variety movement, aerobic training and jump training, it’s important to start where you and your client are, and take into account their individual level of musculoskeletal and overall fitness. Just get moving. For more information, go to acefitness.org.

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