This week, we’ve been learning about osteoporosis.  On Monday we discussed what osteoporosis IS, risk factors and diagnosis, and the basic components of an exercise programme for a person who is concerned about their risk of osteoporosis, or has been actually diagnosed.

Since exercise is an essential part of any osteoporosis treatment or prevention plan, here are some specifics to keep in mind when planning your exercise programme.

Osteoporosis Exercise Dos:  

-Do include weight-bearing aerobic exercise for 20-30 min, 5-7 days per week.  Weight-bearing means on your feet with your bones taking the weight of your body. Try brisk walking, jogging, dance classes, stair climbing, or low-impact aerobics.

-Do perform strengthening exercises at least 2 days per week.  Use free weights, dumbbells, resistance bands or weight machines to perform resistance exercise.

-Do include DAILY balance and stability exercises for 10-20 minutes to help prevent falls. This could be as simple as balancing on one leg or sitting on a stability ball.  Tai chi is an excellent form of exercise for improving stability and balance.

-Do pay close attention to your posture, while exercising and otherwise!  Sit or stand with your shoulders back and your spine erect.  This reduces pressure on the fragile vertebrae and strengthens the muscles that extend your spine.

Osteoporosis Exercise Don’ts:  

-Don’t perform exercises that involve any kind of forward bending.  This limitation is VERY important when exercising with osteoporosis.  On the “to avoid” list are sit ups and standing toe touches.

-Don’t include exercise that involves a lot of twisting, especially forceful twisting.  This may rule out some yoga poses, and even golf and tennis, depending on the severity of your bone loss.

-Don’t plan exclusively low-impact exercises like swimming and biking.

While I hope these guidelines are helpful, they are still mostly general.  Please note that there is no substitute for a customized exercise programme designed by a physiotherapist who knows your medical history and has assessed your particular strengths and areas that need improvement.

Still have more questions about osteoporosis?  Comment below, and check back tomorrow for answers to your frequently asked questions.