No Bones About It: Exercise and Osteoporosis

[This is the first in a series of articles here at FitNotesNH on the role exercise plays in preventing and/or helping to improve certain medical conditions.  We’ll be exploring diabetes, arthritis, cancer and more in this space very soon. Look for the FitWise logo! Our hope is that you will learn along with your fellow Wellness Center members.]

Osteoporosis—the loss of bone density—increases the risk of fractures, which can be debilitating as we grow older. What causes osteoporosis? Hormonal imbalances, dietary insufficiencies, smoking, drinking, and certain medications can all be culprits. But a major cause is simply being sedentary.

Fortunately, that’s something we can change. When it comes to your bones, the old saying “Use it or lose it” holds true. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the rate of bone loss and help conserve remaining bone tissue.

What kind of exercise? The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends two types of exercise for building and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises.

“Weight-bearing exercise can be no impact (using the elliptical machine or deep water exercise),  low-impact (walking or exercising in the shallow end of a pool), or high-impact, such as dancing or jogging,” says Anne Mellor of the Wellness Center staff.  “Muscle-strengthening exercises involve using free weights, weight machines, elastic bands, or simply your own body weight to provide resistance.”

Mellor adds that those with osteoporosis should also consider including balance training to their fitness routine.  Improving balance can prevent falls.  Several Bond Wellness Center classes include balance training. Members should talk with one of the fitness instructors to find one that is appropriate.

If you already have osteoporosis, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program to make sure you start safely. If you don’t have osteoporosis, a regular exercise program could help prevent it.

Give your bones a break—the right kind of break—and make sure you’re exercising at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week or more.

Read more about osteoporosis. 

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