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Exercising with Osteoporosis

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72459386_20By Craig Cole, Bethany Village Exercise Physiologist

Osteoporosis, a condition of which the structural integrity of our bones begins to deteriorate, is a common condition especially in women. This deterioration increases the likelihood of fractures or breaks in bones if a fall should occur. The most common sites for osteoporosis are the hips, spine and forearms/wrists. Doctors not only recommend a pharmacological intervention but they usually also recommend a exercise intervention!

Regular strength training has been clinically proven to help increase our bone density due to the repeated stresses placed upon our skeletons. For those diagnosed with osteopenia, studies have shown reversible changes to preosteopenia levels. For those with osteoporosis, the idea is to prevent further bone loss. Traditionally, there are very little restrictions in the types resistance training movements for those with osteoporosis. Usually those with spinal osteoporosis, there are restrictions in the amount of weight that should be lifted, traditionally 20-25 pounds or doctor specified.

Sometimes doctors and some fitness professionals think that body weight movement alone is enough to elicit a positive effect. Unfortunately, this doesn’t fully apply to everyone. Many people actually are able to go beyond the simplistic body weight movements and need additional stresses that external resistances provide. The main aspect that needs to be understood is that the strength training needs to promote a certain stress to the muscles which in turn elicits a response from our skeletons. The rewards of strength training traditionally outweigh the risks when it comes to those with osteoporosis as long as movements do not increase the risk of having a fall. The added benefits along with improving bone health is improvements in strength, muscle endurance and balance.

Example exercises that can be traditionally used are:

  • Single arm cable presses
  • Overhead shoulder presses
  • Leg press
  • Leg extension
  • Leg Curl
  • Seated Row (Palms down)
  • Single Arm Row
  • Shoulder Shrug
  • Hip Abductions

Make sure to seek guidance from a trained professional if exercise is a option.

Written by Bethany Village

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