According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.(1)
And in the years following menopause, a woman can lose up to 20% of her bone density!
A scary thing.
How do you prevent osteoporosis?
According to the World Health Organization, adults aged 18-64 should be doing at least, “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.”(2)
That works out to about 20 minutes per day, which is very realistic. Aerobic exercise can also be done in spurts of 10 minutes. For instance, a moderate paced walk to the store would be considered apart of your daily physical activity.
Overall, men and women who exercise less have an increased risk for hip and vertebral fracture. They also tend to lose bone density and muscle mass more rapidly than more active individuals.
You know that your muscles get bigger and stronger when you use them. Your bones are similar! They get stronger and denser when you make them work. And “work” for bones means handling impact, the weight of your body or more resistance.
Currently, we know the most about two types of exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density. They are:
- Weight bearing exercise: These exercises include activities that make you move against gravity while being upright. Weight bearing exercises are classified into two categories: high-impact weight bearing exercises and low-impact weight bearing exercises. Ask your doctor whether certain exercises are appropriate for you.
- Muscle strengthening exercise: These exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity. These exercises are also known as resistance exercises.
Non-impact exercises such as posture, balance and functional exercises are also important to include into your exercise regimen. While they may not be as beneficial as weight bearing exercise or muscle strengthening exercises for increasing bone density, they may increase muscle strength and reduce your risk of falls and fractures.
How can osteoporosis be treated?
Osteoporosis can be treated naturally with a an all-encompassing approach of diet, exercise and supplementation. As we get older, supplementation will become necessary for most as a decrease as body changes in bone mineral density, organ function and other factors decrease. Treatment options for osteoporosis include: dietary changes, regular exercise, bone-building supplementation and fall prevention.
If you are suffering from osteoporosis or low bone density it’s recommended to undergo a thorough medical examination. By doing so, you and your doctor will be able to determine which activities and osteoporosis exercises are safe for you.
Medical Evaluation for Osteoporosis Exercises
Generally, if you’ve already had broken bones in the spine due to osteoporosis, be very careful to avoid activities that require reaching far, bending forward, rapid twisting motions, heavy lifting and any movements that increase your chance of a fall. If you have balance problems or are at risk of falls, also avoid activities that will put your at risk or challenge your stability.
If you haven’t exercised regularly for a while, check with your healthcare provider before you begin a new program—particularly if you have health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. Once you have your healthcare provider’s approval, start slowly.
Do you need a physical therapist?
If you’ve broken a bone or have osteoporosis, consider working with a physical therapist to choose the best exercises for you and to learn the correct form.
Your doctor or healthcare provider should be able to provide you with a referral or prescription to see a physical therapist.
And when in doubt, follow “the rules”:
- Protecting your bones comes first. Avoid all exercises that round the spine, deep twists, and side bends and avoid bouncing stretches.
- Focus on quality, not quantity.
- Work at the highest intensity as safely possible. Performing 10 repetitions at high intensity so that you are fatigued by the 10th rep is best for bone and strength building.
- Alignment of the bones determines where the forces focus for bone building.
- Alignment of the joints keeps them in proper alignment so that you support them instead of injure them.
- Painful knees and joints need to be strengthened to provide support. Pain inhibits strength and becomes a downhill spiral in function.
What is meant by weight bearing? Weight bearing literally means to bear your own weight. It describes activities that make you move against gravity while being upright (on your feet). By doing weight bearing activities you are stressing your bones, in a good way, which helps you become stronger.
Examples of high-impact weight bearing exercises are the following:
- Playing soccer
If you can’t do high-impact weight-bearing activities, try one of the low-impact weight bearing exercises such as:
- Elliptical machine
- Low impact aerobics
- Stair-step machines
- Tai Chi**
Studies show that individuals who practice Tai Chi have a 47% decrease in falls and 25% the hip fracture rate of those who don’t. In addition, Tai Chi can be beneficial for preventing bone loss in weight bearing bones in early postmenopausal women.(3)(4)
**There are times during yoga and pilates where you are doing exercises on the floor. In these instances, while these exercises may be strenuous, they are no longer weight bearing exercises as the floor is supporting you.
5 Proven Weight Bearing Exercises
Here is a list of 5 proven exercises for improved bone strength and managing osteoporosis pain.
For examples on how to do each exercise properly, watch the video below!
#1 Mountain Pose
According to a recent study in the Journal of Pain Research practicing a type of yoga called Hatha may reduce physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women suffering from fibromyalgia. Hatha consists of a gentle combination of posture, stretching and meditation exercises.(5)
Tadasana or mountain pose is typically the starting position for all standing poses. But also a great pose to practice regularly as it focuses on alignment and posture. Try this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and focus on your breathing.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
- Stand straight and tall and tilt your pelvis in
- Hang your arms to your sides, look up and raise your arms
- Reach to the ceiling
A studyin the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked into which types of weight bearing exercises are most beneficial when it comes to postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis. One group of older women were put through three squatting sessions per week, for three weeks. While the control group followed the current guidelines for osteoporosis.(6)
Squatting made the women significantly stronger (154% one rep max improvement!). With that greater strength, came greater bone mineral content. The control group on the other hand, showed slightly reduced bone mineral content.
Squatting works your entire body. It strengthens your core, upper body and even increases joint flexibility. Your hips, knees and lower back are all being used during squats.
- There are many variations of the squat. But try the full body squat.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Keep your back straight and bend your knees into a full squat, then come back up
- Repeat this squat and stand motion 8 times (more or less depending on your comfort)
You can grab a dumbbell or additional weight as you see fit.
Sixty premenopausal women are jumping for joy – and bone mineral density after their participation in a study. This randomized control trial had these women assigned to a control group or one of two jumping group. Jumping group one completed 10 jumps with 30 second rests between jumps, twice daily for 16 weeks. While the second jumping group completed the same protocol but with 20 jumps.(7)
After 16 weeks, the study showed both jumping groups improved their hip bone mineral density compared to their controls. In fact, the control group lost about 1.3% bone density during this period.
The group of women who jumped 20 times had the most improvement.
How did they jump?
Lead researcher Jerry Tucker, PHD said, “Women jumped as high as they could from the floor.”
So next time you’re planning to go for a run or workout, throw some jumping in there. Jumping is a great exercise to build stronger, denser hips. If you are worried about your balance or surroundings – wear shoes and make sure you are on a forgiving surface (possibly gym mats or grass instead of concrete). You can also have a chair or something sturdy next to you to hold on to.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart
- Lean slightly forward at the hips and bend your knees
- Keep your chest up and bring your arms to your sides, slightly bent
- Now jump up!
- Land softly and do not buckle your knees
#4 Thoracic Spine
Let’s talk about your spine. One randomized controlled trial focused on back muscle extensor strength, kyphosis, height and thoracic expansion in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The training group was put through a back muscle extensor strengthening program for 1 hour, twice a week for 4 months and was performed by a physiotherapist.(8)
After the 4 months, the training group saw improved back strength, increased height and improved thoracic expansion. Although there was no effect on kyphosis, this program shows the importance of muscle extensor exercises when it comes to the spine and osteoporosis.
Try the thoracic spine exercise that was used in the study.
- Stand with your back as straight as possible against a wall
- Press the thoracic spine (upper and middle back) into the wall
- Hold for 15 seconds
- Relax for 15 seconds and repeat for a total of 10 times
The following exercise was also done during the study and works your back extensor muscles.
#5 Back Extensor
- Position yourself on your hands and knee in table pose (about 90 degrees)
- Your knees should be under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders
- Face down to the ground
- Raise one leg and the opposite arm in a diagonal plane.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds
- Release slowly down
- Raise the opposite leg with the opposite arm in a diagonal plane
- Repeat 8 times on each side
This exercise strengthens weak extensor back muscles and also improves your stability.
Exercise is site specific. And when it comes to osteoporosis, the sites that are most prone to fracture are the spine, hips, legs, arms and wrists.
Put yourself through exercises that focus on these sites, like the ones above, and you will be off to a great start in protecting your bones from fractures.
Remember, if you are already suffering from bone loss or osteoporosis always consult your physician or personal trainer. Depending on your condition and fitness level they will be able to provide a safe and personalized exercise plan for you.
In addition to weight bearing exercises, there is also another important osteoporosis exercise you should focus on. And that is muscle strengthening exercises.
Resistance or muscle strengthening exercise refers to exercising your muscles using an opposing force.
It works because resistance makes your muscles contract, which builds the quality and strength of your muscles. This ensures that you are building the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding your joints (and also strengthening your bones in the process).
Resistance or muscle strengthening exercises can be in the form of:
- Free weights
- Weight machines
- Resistance bands
…anything that makes your muscle to overcome a resistant force.
In the below exercises, we are using resistance tubes with handles and resistance bands. They are a great low-cost, small-space option to getting your workout in at home, anytime.
5 Proven Muscle-Strengthening Exercises
#1: Front Squats
- Place your feet on top of the band shoulder width apart.
- Hold the handles with an overhand grip and bring them up to shoulder height.
- Squat as far down as possible, making sure your knees don’t go over your front toes.
- With power, explode up and return to a standing position
- Do 4 sets of 12 repetitions.
Why the front squat?
Front squats work your entire lower body and will help with your strength and balance. It also works your core because it requires you to stabilize your mid-section throughout the entire movement.
#2: Overhead Press
- Place your left foot on the band and step your right foot slightly in front (about a foot).
- Raise your arms until you reach full extension, with your hands above your head and palms up.
- Return your arms back down to starting position, slowly. Your elbows will be bent and at shoulder level.
- Repeat for 3 times 10 reps.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Why the overhead press?
The overhead press works your shoulders and triceps. This exercise also develops strength and stability in the abs, lower back, glutes and upper thighs, which are all important to reduce fracture risk. As your balance and strength increases, your risk of falling and fracture risk decreases.
#3: Open Clamshell
- Tie your resistance band together around your thigh, just above your knees
- Lay down on your left side with knees slightly bent and your legs stacked.
- Extend your left arm to rest your head upon.
- Keep your feet together and lift your right leg as far up as possible, without your feet separating.
- Lower down and return to starting position
- Do 12 reps on each side, twice.
*Intensify this exercise by squeezing your glutes (buttocks) 2-3 times in the open clamshell position.
Why the clamshell?
This exercise targets your hamstring muscles and glutes, which are key for a healthy back and to stabilize your knees. If you sit for long periods (at a desk job, driving or something else that requires a lot of sitting) your glutes are in a stretched position and aren’t being worked.
#4: Push Up
- Place the resistance band across your upper back and loop the ends of the band through each thumb.
- Get in plank position and lower yourself to the ground, facedown.
- Contract your core and glutes and push straight up until your arms are fully extended.
- Lower back down until your chest touches the floor
- Do 5 to 20 repetitions, depending on your strength.
*Modification: if you are unable to do multiple pushups this way, don’t sweat it! You don’t want your technique to suffer as it will place stress on your spine. Modify this exercise by putting your knees down and pushing up from there.
Why the push up?
The push up is a full body workout. It uses a large number of muscles, including your legs to complete the action. When you perform pushups you are engaging your core, your legs and your arms. For more, Greatist has an additional 32 resistance band exercises.
#5: Lunge with Overhead Extension
- Raise your right arm with resistance band above your head. With your left arm, go behind your back and grab the band.
- Lunge forward with your right foot. Make sure you heel and knee are parallel.
- As you lower, pull the resistance band with the overhead hand.
- As you come out of the lunge, bend your elbow and release the tension of the resistance band.
- Do 12 repetitions, then switch legs. Do each side twice.
Why the lunge?
The lunge mostly targets the quads and glutes, but it also works the hamstrings, calves and core too. Lunges help with your balance and coordination because it is a ‘unilateral exercise,’ meaning that it trains one side of your body, independent of the other. It also increases the flexibility in your hip flexor muscles, which are chronically tight in today’s common sedentary lifestyle.
And remember – it’s not where you are now, but where you want go that matters!
* The exercises above use both resistance tubes with handles and resistance bands. Depending on your strength, you can get higher resistance bands and tubes. The different colors signify different resistance strength. You can buy these at any sporting goods store near you.
Now that we have covered the top two osteoporosis exercise: weight bearing exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise is there anything that you’re missing from your bone health regimen? While these are the top two exercises for bone health, there are other exercises that can help…and they are non-impact exercises for osteoporosis.
Low Impact Exercises
Types of Low-Impact Exercise
There are several types of aerobic exercise that are gentle on the back and, when done on a regular basis, highly effective in providing conditioning.
- Walking. In general, walking for exercise is very gentle on the back, and walking two to three miles three times per week is very helpful. Walking also has the advantage of not requiring special equipment (except a good pair of shoes suitable for walking) and it can be done inside or outside, in almost any location, including at home, the local mall or on the gym.
- Stationary bicycling. If you are more comfortable seated rather than standing, biking or stationary biking may be preferable. Bicycling or ‘spinning’ classes have grown in popularity over the last decade as more people realize the benefits of this lower impact form of exercise. There are several upright and recumbent (reclining) bikes that can be purchased for home use, and many come with programs preloaded so that patients have a good variety of sessions from which to choose.
- Elliptical trainer or step machine. These machines provide a low-impact workout because you use pedals suspended above the ground to move in a continuous oval motion, as opposed to continuously stepping on a hard surface. The motor on the machine facilitates a smoother step or forward glide motion, which is less jarring than walking. The benefit of these machines is that they provide an aerobic workout as well as strengthening or resistance training because the arms of most cross-training machines can be pushed and pulled, thus working the upper body, and the resistance of the pedaling motion increased to require greater muscle exertion to maintain the movement.
- Water therapy. Doing exercise in the water provides for effective conditioning while minimizing stress on the back because the buoyancy of water counteracts the gravitational pull that can compress the spine. When “un-weighted” in water, you become more mobile and stretching and strengthening exercises are less painful. Exercises such as hip abduction lifts, bicep curls, arm circles to exercise deltoids and shoulders, and tricep kickbacks are all easier done water for most people. All these muscles build strength in the low back or neck, and reduce back pain. Water therapy exercise is especially useful for people in too much pain to tolerate land exercises on a mat or hard floor, or for elderly patients.
Non Impact Exercises for Osteoporosis
Balance and leg strengthening exercises can help improve balance while decreasing the risk of falls. Many fitness centers, community centers and other organizations offer balance exercise programs, such as Tai Chi classes. Balance exercises can also be done at home.
Who should do balance exercises? Balance exercises are especially important if you have fallen during the past year or if you lose your balance while doing regular daily activities.
How often should you do balance exercises? You can do balance exercises every day. You can perform these exercises at one time or spread them throughout the day. Below is an example of a balance progression exercise you can do at home.
Balance Training Progression Exercise: Before beginning the progression exercise, keep in mind that your legs and feet should feel a little wobbly to show that balance is being challenged. However, you should never feel like you could fall. Make sure to read all of the information about the Balance Training Progression before beginning the exercise.
Balance Progression Exercise:
- Level 1 Feet together: Stand with feet tight next to each other.
- Level 2 Semi-tandem: Stand with one foot in front but slightly to the side of the other with the inside edge of the front heel touching the inside edge of the back foot’s big toe.
- Level 3 Tandem: Stand with one foot directly in front of the other like being on a tight rope.
- Level 4 Single leg stance: Stand on one leg only.
Start with Level 1 and try to hold the position for 20 – 30 seconds. Once you can do this, progress to the next level.
As you are able to master each level, progress to the next level until you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed with your hands two inches above the chair or table.
This exercise can be done once each day. Stop the exercise immediately if you feel like you could fall.
After you have mastered the balance progression exercise, you can try the following:
Heel Raise Exercise:
This exercise promotes balance, aids in fall prevention, builds strength in the legs, and stimulates bone in the hips. Heel Raises can be done when knee pain prevents knee bending exercises to progressively build strength to support the knee joint.
- Stand against the wall to begin so that your spine is aligned.
- Start with both feet together with a tennis ball in between to perform in correct ankle alignment.
- Then raise your heels up and come onto your toes
- Slowly come down
This exercise can be done in 10 repetitions of 3 sets once a day. Have a chair or table next to you to grab onto for balance. Stop the exercise immediately if you feel like you could fall.
Good posture includes keeping your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your knees and your knees over your ankles.
Posture exercises can also help you reduce rounded or “sloping” shoulders. These exercises can also help you reduce the chance of breaking bones in your spine.
Doing a variety of posture exercises can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your upper body, abdominals (tummy), back and lower body.
Who should do posture exercises? Good posture is important for everyone. Posture exercises are especially important if your head is slumping forward, your shoulders are rounded or your spine is curving forward.
How often should you do posture exercises? You can do posture exercises every day. You can perform these exercises at one time or spread them throughout the day.
Below is an example of a posture exercise that stretches the shoulders, flattens the upper back and improves rounded shoulders:
Thoracic Extension Over an 8” Ball or 6×36” Foam Roller Exercise:
Mobilizes the often stiff joints of the thoracic spine (upper and mid back area), stretches the pectoral muscles across the front of the chest, and challenges the abdominals. This is a great preparation for the prone extension exercises. If done correctly with costal breathing, this is a great facilitator of core control!
- Get down on the grown and place your ball or foam roller between the upper and mid back area
- Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the ground
- Lay back with your arms protecting and supporting your head and neck (as shown in the picture above) and lay over the ball or foam roller
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Sit back up and repeat 5 times
If you are unable to get down on the floor, you can modify this exercise using a chair.
- Sit on a sturdy chair and place the ball in between your upper and mid back area
- Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the ground
- Using your arms support and protect your head and neck
- Stretch and lean your upper body backward, with a slight arch in the upper back
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Sit back up properly and repeat 5 times
Builds strength in the thoracic spine and stimulates bone in the vertebral bodies. This exercise was featured in the studies by Sinaki. Fantastic for improving posture and prevention and reduction of the dowager’s hump!
- Begin by lying down on your stomach, face down, with your arms by your side
- Then squeeze your shoulder blades together and slowly lift your arms and chest off the ground
- Remember to keep your neck as straight as possible and look forward or down
- Hold for 3 seconds once you reach the top of the movement
- Slowly lower down to your starting position
- Perform this 10 times (make sure this is pain free!)
Functional exercises are similar to the activities you do each day. These exercises can help you stay strong when doing these activities, such as getting in and out of a chair.
Who should do functional exercises? If you struggle to do every day activities, such as standing up from a chair or climbing stairs, you should do functional exercises. Also, if you have recently been inactive due to a broken bone, surgery, an illness or other reason, you may also benefit from these exercises.
How often should you do functional exercises? You can do functional exercises every day. You can do these exercises at one time or spread them throughout the day. Below is an example of a functional exercise that helps with safety when getting up from a chair to a standing position. It also helps strengthen legs.
Chair Rise Exercise:
- Sit on the front edge of a chair and rise to the standing position. Then gently sit back down without using your arms. It may be helpful to cross your arms over your chest to prevent using them.
- Keep your knees and feet hip-width apart at all times.
- Use the strength of your legs to stand and sit.
- If this can’t be done without using your arms, place a pillow on the seat of the chair (underneath you) to make it a bit easier.
- The goal is to stand and sit 10 times in a row. Once a set of 10 can be comfortably completed, remove the pillow or move the exercise to a lower chair to make it harder.
The Chair Rise Exercise can be done once each day.
* These exercises should not hurt in any way while they are being done or cause muscle soreness lasting more than two days. All individuals should obtain permission from their healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program.
Are Non Weight Bearing Exercises Just As Effective?
Non weight bearing activities are referred to as exercises that do not support or bear your own weight.
- Seated exercises (for instance during yoga or pilates)
- Paddling a canoe or kayak
When it comes to osteoporosis, are non weight bearing exercises just as effective as weight bearing exercises?
You see, non weight bearing exercises are often overlooked when it comes to osteoporosis, but they shouldn’t be. These exercises can make you stronger, increase your flexibility and improve your cardiovascular health.
These exercises may be appropriate for someone who is just starting to pick up exercise again or have limitations in what they can do.
You can benefit from non weight bearing exercise if you have:
- Weak or brittle bones that may fracture with too much weight
- Limited mobility
- Joint pain, which makes weight bearing exercise unbearable
After all, exercise is better than no exercise.
Why Weight Bearing Exercise for Osteoporosis is Best
Now if you aren’t limited in what you can do, weight bearing exercise is still the best choice when it comes to your bone health.
Studies show that regular weight bearing exercise of 1 hour or more per week is associated with an increase in bone mineral density within a normal population.(9)(10)
One small scale study in particular showed that a weight bearing exercise program for elderly patients with osteoporosis increased bone mineral density more than non weight bearing exercise.
Although, both weight bearing and non weight bearing exercise programs significantly improved quality of life.(11)
How Much Exercise Should I Do?
Now that we’ve discussed what exercises you need to do regularly, now we can discuss how much.
Weight-bearing, impact exercises should be done for a total of 30 minutes per day, five to seven days per week.
You can do 30 minutes at one time or break it up during the day. For example, 3 sessions of 10 minutes each will provide a similar bone benefit as one 30-minute session. If you can’t fit 10 minutes in, spread your exercise throughout the day by taking the stairs or by parking farther from the store or work.
Muscle-strengthening exercises should be done two to three days a week. You should aim for one exercise for each major muscle group for a total of 8-12 exercises. You should do one or two sets of 8 to 10 repetitions for each exercise. If you lift a weight 10 times in a row and stop, you have completed one set of 10 repetitions.
If you can’t do 8 in a row, the weight is too heavy or resistance is too much. If you can do more than 10 in a row, you should probably increase the weight or resistance. If you have osteoporosis or are frail, it may be better to do 10 to 15 repetitions with a lighter weight.
If you don’t have much time for muscle-strengthening, do small amounts at a time. You can do just one body part each day. For example work arms one day, legs the next and trunk the next. You can also spread these exercises out during your normal day.
As you get started, your muscles may feel sore for a day or two after you exercise. If the soreness lasts longer, you may be working too hard and need to ease up. Exercises should be done in a pain-free range of motion.
Additional Osteoporosis Exercises
You’re never too old or too young to improve the health of your bones. Dr. Elizabeth O’Neill from Springfield College tells how being physically active can maintain bone health and prevent Osteoporosis.
Dr. Neill tells us that low impact workouts can be a perfect solution to maintain bone density and be gentle enough to not cause further harm. These and other exercises can help fend off and be a great rehab tool for Osteoporosis.
To Listen to Dr. Elizabeth O’Neil of Springfield College’s Podcast : Click Here
Want to keep your bones strong and healthy? Make sure you get plenty of exercise to help ward off problems such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and pain affecting the joints and lower back.
The Cleveland Clinic offers these treatments for osteoporosis that boost your bone health:
- Get low-impact exercise via activities such as swimming, walking and biking.
- Perform gentle stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Perform weight-bearing exercises such as dancing, climbing stairs, hiking and tennis.
- Play sports such as golf that are relatively easy on the bones and joints.
Hi, I’m Holly Perkins with Exercise TV. Welcome to my Everyday Health bone building workout. This is level one. Let’s get started.
I’m going to show you two exercises that you can do on your own, anywhere, anytime, to really help improve your bone health. Now, bone health can be improved two ways: by doing impact exercises, and by doing resistance-based exercises. We’ve got one of each.
The first impact exercise is just a basic jump rope. Now, it’s pretty important that you jump, so get those feet moving and use the arms. We want that impact because that’s what helps to improve bone health. You’re going to jump in place for about one minute, and then move on to this next exercise.
It’s a sumo squat. You’re going to need a set of dumbbells. Most people are great with three to eight pound dumbbells, depending on your fitness level. Make sure you’ve got great technique before you increase your weight. The feet are shoulder distance, turned open slightly. Dumbbells come to the shoulders. Stand nice and tall.
So we’re going to drop down until our elbows come close to the knees, push through the heels, and return to that standing position. Make sure that you keep your chest up. Make sure that you drive through the heels to engage the glutes and the hamstrings, and stand tall. By adding the dumbbells, we’re making this a resistance exercise to really strengthen those bones.
Aim to complete 15 repetitions of this exercise.
I’m Holly Perkins. Thanks for working out with me. Be sure to check out all of my Everyday Health videos.
Here are some additional exercises to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures:
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.
Below is a fantastic video showing three great pelvic exercises.
Hi. Welcome to Pelvic Exercises. I’m Michelle Kenway.
Today, I’d like to show you 3 terrific pelvic exercises to address the bone health of your hips. These are actually osteoporosis exercises specifically designed to improve the bone health of your hips, and also too, to protect your pelvic floor. Many women living with both pelvic floor issues and osteoporosis or decreased spine density issues have a lot of trouble exercising safely, knowing that what they’re doing for their bone health is effective, but also, to protect them for their pelvic floor. These exercises you can be assured that they are protective for your pelvic floor, not going to place undue pressure on your pelvic floor, and also too, going to effectively address the bone health of your hips.
The first exercise is called a Clam Exercise; terrific little exercise to address bone health your hips, especially if you’re bone health has decreased. Remember before starting, that if you already have osteoporosis or decreased bone density in your hips; be sure to get your doctor’s approval to exercise. That’s always the case when starting a new exercise program if you haven’t exercised previously. Also too, much of these exercises are all pain-free. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort while you are exercising. Let’s get started.
Here’s our first exercise; it’s a Clam Exercise. I’m going to lie onto my side. I’m going to put my feet roughly in line with my bottom bones, and I am going to lie down on my side comfortably. If you need to use a pillow to support your neck, that’s absolutely fine. You can see that’s the position I’m in with my bent legs and my head down. The clam exercise involves you lifting your top knee just away from the bottom knee. It’s only a very small lift. Don’t think that it’s a case of the higher the better; if you lift it high, you’re going to start to use your back. We don’t want to use our back in this exercise. We really want to isolate specifically into the hip.
To load my bones a little bit more, I’m actually going to use a dumbbell here. I’ve got a 2 kilo dumbbell; you might want to start with no dumbbell or then start to gradually use a larger weight, maybe a kilo. Place this close to my knee as I can, and I’m going to do that same exercise, lifting that that top knee away from my bottom knee, slowly lifting, slowly lowering down, as you can see; keeping that really nice form. My head’s protected, my neck’s protected. I’m really just exercising into the muscles around my hip. Slow and steady.
For any bone health exercise, remember, we try to do 2 lots of 8 of that specific exercise. I’m hoping I’m about 5 here. I’ve been busy talking and not counting. Let’s call this Number 6. Slow steady movement, not too high, keeping my knees in line with each other. One more time lifting up and slowly lowering down, making sure that you lower the weight down slowly when you perform that exercise. Obviously, you repeat that exercise again on this side, and also too, then perform the same exercise on the other leg in that same position at home; optimally, alternate days of the week, so 2 to 3 times a week to effectively address your bone health.
The second exercise is Side Leg Raise. Staying effectively in that similar position or same position, I’m going to keep my bottom leg slightly bent. I’m going to take my top leg now, straight this time. I’m might move a little bit higher so you can actually see that my toe is pointed downwards. Again, I’m going to use a dumbbell weight along the line of my thigh. You can at home use a cuff weight around your ankle to really effectively strengthen through the hip with this exercise. Here’s my position: My toe’s pointing down to really effectively use my muscles around my hip and let that weight stimulate some bone growth in my hip. I’m going to lift that leg just a small . . . if you can see, it’s not too high; my leg’s in fact just about level with the rest of my trunk, and slowly lowering down. Again, lifting up and slowly lowering down. Can you see how I’ve got my toe pointed downwards and I’m really exercising into those hip muscles. I can actually see my toe in front of my body as I look down, so I know that my leg’s in a good position. I shouldn’t have that leg forward. Again, lifting. I think we are on Number 5 here; and slowly down. Again, that exercise should be pain-free. Slowly down. Last couple; nice steady breathing. Lifting the leg, and down. One last time; lifting up, lowering it down slowly and taking a break.
As I said earlier, you perform that exercise a couple of times on each side, and then move onto your next exercise. Our final exercise is a bridging exercise today. This is an exercise that’s great for hips, and also to affect your back. If you’ve been diagnosed with decreased bone density in your back, also a great exercise to effectively address both those areas. For this exercise, I’m on a firm surface again. I’m going to roll over onto my back. I’m actually going to use 2 weights this time. At home if you’re starting this exercise, you might like to even start with no weight. I’m relaxed through my hip and shoulders; I’ve got my heels nice and close to my bottom. Here’s my dumbbell weights, and I’m going to place them gently onto my hips. Roll my shoulders back and down. I’m going to push down through my heels, and I’m going to lift my bottom off the ground, up to that position there, and slowly down.
My knees are actually fist-width apart, and they’ll stay fist-width apart throughout the entire exercise. My feet are the same; they’re about hip-width apart approximately as you lift and lower. Lifting up, push down through your heels, lift your bottom, and then make sure your slowly lower down. Again, lifting up, so bottom up and slowly lowering down. Some ladies find that these bridging exercises can cause their backs to become sore. If that’s the case, if you find that your back is sore, don’t lift too high. You might find that just doing a smaller lift like this keeps our back comfortable. It will still help to improve your hip bone density. That’s a way of just modifying that exercise if you need to, if you’re someone with a sore back that gets a sore back with this exercise. Let’s do one more of those exercises; lifting up, bottom up, and then slowly lowering your bottom down. Take a break.
Again at home, you can perform that exercise again for another 8 repetitions to, again, effectively address your bone health. What have we done? We’ve done 3 terrific exercises for bone health of your hips. We’ve done a Clam Exercise, which was that side-lying leg lift. We did a side-lying straight leg raise. We also did our Bridging Exercise lying on our back. You can be gradually increasing the weight that you use. For the first couple of weeks, you might use no weight at all. Remembering you’re sure to always use a weight that is comfortable, increasingly lifting a heavier weight so that you stimulate that bone growth.
Watch this short and simple video that focuses on osteoporosis exercises for the spine.
Today I thought we do some exercises specifically for the middle part of your back: this region here. You might have had a DEXA Scan and been told that your back density is decreased. Now these are great exercises to try to help prevent fractures through that middle part of your spine and help to stop that slumping that can actually accompany those types of fractures.
So I’m going to show you three great middle back strength exercises that you can do simply using some dumbbells. I’m sitting on a stool today. You can use a fitball or a bench, whatever is comfortable, whatever you have access to at home. Remember that when you’re performing osteoporosis exercises, it’s really important that you don’t feel any discomfort during the exercise. You should feel muscles working, and so if you feel any pain during the exercise you need to stop straightaway.
Remember too that if you already have established osteoporosis, it’s important that you get your doctor’s approval before you perform some exercises, and the same case applies if you haven’t exercised previously. Remember these exercises are also for women who have pelvic floor issues, and when we have pelvic floor issues and osteoporosis, we can perform high- impact exercise which is often advocated to address biodensity.
This is where resistance training exercises are ideal to use the muscles that support and attach to that middle part of your spine, those muscles that support through here, and your core muscles as well that actually support your spine, these are the muscles that we are after. And doing these exercises, seated in the positions I showed you are very safe for your pelvic floor as well as safe exercises for your bones.
Let’s start with posture. Posture is very important in order to address or to prevent that slumpful posture that can occur. You need to start to use those muscles in the middle part of your back. How do you do that? I think I’ll sit side-on to demonstrate this first. So sitting side-on to you, when you sit, have your weight evenly balanced between your sit bones.
The action then is to lift your chest as if you’re being drawn up by a string from your sternum about 45 degrees. Your shoulders are backing down and so the action to bring your shoulders back isn’t correct because you’re using your neck muscles. Bring your shoulders back and down, draw your chest up. Also to think of a long, tall spine, as if being lifted up by a string to the crown of your head towards the ceiling. So you’re thinking tall, and you’re thinking chest is lifted.
That position front-on looks like this. It’s really worth practicing that posture regularly throughout the day whenever you’re sitting: shoulders back and down, chest lifted. spine nice and tall. That way you’ll be using the muscles in the middle of your back, and also you’ll be using your core muscles. Your core muscles can be used a lot more effectively, those muscles that support your trunk.
We are going to use that posture for our first exercise. This is called Rotator Cuff, but it’s also a great exercise not only for the back of your shoulders, but also for the middle part of your back. You’ll need two dumbbells, or two weights. You could use a couple of tins from out of the cupboard at home. I’m going to use a couple of one kilo dumbbells to start with.
Make sure when you start your bone density exercise for the first couple of weeks while you become accustomed to the exercise, that you are using a weight that feels really comfortable until you get some really good form. After that, you can start to increase the weight you’re lifting. Remember that research tells us that for bone health, we should be doing two lots of eight of a heavy weight to really stimulate that bone growth.
So here we go. I’m going to use the weights about navel height. My chest is lifted, my shoulder is back and down, my spine is nice and tall. Here is the action. The action is to take the weights back and bring the weights back together. Can you see I’m keeping my elbows into my waist? I’m not moving them, and back.
Now if you’re doing this exercise really well at home, you can look in the mirror and you can see your shoulders actually move down now as the weights go out. So no pressure on my neck and shoulders or upper part of my neck, and back together, and slow and steady.
I’m going to do three more squeezing my shoulder blades back together, as if I’m taking my shoulder blades toward the middle part of my spine; two more, slow and steady; and one more time, squeezing my shoulder blades together; and down.
Bring my weights down and give my shoulders a big roll, taking the tension out of my neck and shoulders, and if you’re at home and performing this exercise for your mid-back density, I’d repeat that exercise again, another load of eight repetitions for today. Remember you should be doing those two to three times a week on alternate days.
Next exercise is called a Low Dumbbell Roll. This is the way you do this exercise. You might like to use a slightly heavier weight for this exercise. I’m going to use a two kilo weight. So I’m getting my two kilo weight. Position is using your bench or using your chair, or you could do this on a fitball as well. I’m going to bring my knee up to support my back and bring my other hand forwards. So I’ve got a weight in my left hand, and I’ve got my right hand supported on the chair or the bench. I’m going to put a little bend in that elbow so there’s no undue pressure into that right shoulder and my neck.
Side-on to you, you can see that I’ve got an inward curve in my back. My back isn’t arched up. My curve is neutral inward. I’ll bring the weight down along my thigh. When you do this exercise correctly, you scoop the weight along the line of your thigh and back down. You’re really thinking about bringing your shoulder blades in towards your spine and taking it back down. So it’s a real scooping action.
Sometimes you’ll see the exercise done like this: lifting the weight up close. That exercise tends to use your neck and shoulders and often you’ll get sore neck and shoulders when doing those exercises incorrectly.
To do it really effectively and to do it pain-free for your neck and shoulders, scoop it along and down. If you’re checking in the mirror at home, side-on to the mirror so that you can just turn your head and then see what you’re doing again just to protect your neck. I think I’m up to about five repetitions here. Let’s try for three more, scooping up, lifting it, and down. Again, I’m really bringing that shoulder blade in towards my spine, and down, and one last time, and down.
Let’s try that on the other side, coming up slowly, move around to the other side so you could see what I’m doing. Again, check my position. My opposite knee, this time my left knee is up, my left hand is on my chair or my stool, weighting my right hand, and again I’m going to do that scooping action. Again I’ve got to bend in that left elbow.
Here we go. Scooping the weight along my thigh, and down, slow and steady, breathing out as I lift the weight. Again that is protecting my pelvic floor, breathing out as I lift the weight. I’m at a great position for my pelvic floor, no strain in that area while I’m doing this exercise. This is number five. I think it could be four or five, and down. We’ll call that six, lifting up, and slightly down.
Two to go, full range of movement bringing your elbow back, and down, and one last time, and down. And again, just taking some pressure off my neck and shoulders, do some shoulder circles, no pressure to your neck and shoulders. Once again, if you’re doing that at home, repeat the exercise again both sides.
The final exercise that we’re going to do for our mid-part of our back is called the Push Back Exercise, terrific exercise for posture, terrific exercise for the middle part of your back.
Now this exercise you would want to use a lighter set of weights. I’m going to use a couple sets of 500 grams, so two 500 gram weights. I’ll do this while kneeling so you can see what I’m doing. This exercise can be done both in kneeling and lying down on your tummy. Some of us don’t like to lie on our tummy. If you feel comfortable lying on your tummy, I’m going to show you the same exercise in that position.
First of all, let’s start this exercise in kneeling. So I’ve got my two 500 gram weights. Again, you could use two 500 gram tins, or even bags of sugar or flour, whatever you’d like to use. One leg comes forward, chest comes over that thigh, so my back is supported. Take the weights, take your palms towards the ceiling, make your arms really long. In that position, tuck your chin in, and you’re ready to press back.
The press back action is to take your hands back, push your chest out as you lift, and slowly down. So I’m really squeezing my shoulder blades together towards the spine, lifting up, squeezing it, and down, and again squeeze and lift.
If you’re doing this at home, it is wise to be side-on to the mirror to check what you’re doing, and turn your head sideways if you need to have a look. Lifting up, and down. Let’s do two more lift and squeeze, and down, and one more time, and down, and take a break.
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