Exercise for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that affects men and women – especially women beyond menopause – because estrogen helps to protect bone.  In osteoporosis, the bones become brittle and weak and have a greater risk of fracture.  The word osteoporosis means “porous bones,” where porous essentially means “full of holes” – and that accurately describes the condition of osteoporotic bones.

One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis is weight-bearing exercise.  Such exercises enhance bone growth and increase bone density. Weight-bearing exercises are the only type of exercise that stimulate the cells to grow new bone and prevent osteoporosis.  These exercises not only prevent bone loss, but some studies suggest that they can also replace current bone loss.
  Weight-bearing exercises are exercises that force the muscles to work against gravity or work against some resistance. The bones gain strength when a force is added by causing the bones to absorb more calcium.

Weight-bearing exercises should be done two to three days per week.

Some of the major muscle groups and their exercises include:

  • Middle back – Seated Rows
  • Lower back – Seated Rows
  • Shoulders – Over Head Dumbbell Presses, Lateral Dumbbell Raises
  • Biceps – Dumbbell Curls
  • Triceps – Cable Pull-downs with rope or bar
  • Chest – Flat and Inclined Dumbbell Presses, Barbell Presses, Dumbbell Flys
  • Legs – Squats, Leg extensions, Leg curls, seated or standing calf raises

Non-Weight-Bearing, Non-impact Exercises

These exercises can be part of a well-rounded exercise program, but do not help to build bones.  If you like these activities, add in others (noted above) that work your bones.  Some of these exercises include:

  • ‪Bicycling/indoor cycling‬
  • Deep-water walking‬
  • ‪Stretching and flexibility exercises‬
  • ‪Swimming‬
  • ‪Water aerobics‬

*Consider this note of caution about endurance running such as marathons, cross country and triathlons and other extreme exercise regimens:  Extremes of exercise, mainly aerobic exercise, can negatively affect bone density in women by interfering with estrogen production when combined with an inadequate intake of calcium and total food energy.  (Natural loss of estrogen is the main cause of bone loss in women after menopause.)

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