When you have osteoporosis, you may be tempted to take it easy on your bones. And in some ways, you should. But not by becoming a couch potato. Staying physically active and exercising is more important than ever, because being fit can actually help reduce your risk of falls – something all people with osteoporosis have to consider. Still, when you exercise, you have to be safe and smart about it.
All the right moves
So what kind of exercise is best for bones? That’s a question you should pose first to your healthcare provider. He or she may want to devise a physical activity program specifically for you – one that is gentle on your frame, strengthens your body and improves your balance.
Your exercise program will probably include a variety of activities, like these:
A brisk walk on the treadmill or a flat surface outside, a little elliptical training, some swimming or biking . . . these are all forms of exercise that build a good fitness foundation by improving your cardiovascular conditioning. About 30 minutes a day on most days of the week is a good goal. Stamina-building exercises help tone your muscles and increase balance and coordination, all of which are good news for your bones.
- Elastic-band training
Strength-training exercises, such as working out with elastic bands, using weight machines, climbing stairs or walking uphill, all involve one thing: resistance. And that resistance is good for your bones because it protects against muscle loss, a common problem as we get older. Resistance exercises also reduce the risk of falls. And the stress that resistance exercises place on bones helps preserve bone mass. General recommendations are to strength train two or three times a week, but follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
- Tai chi
Balance exercises like tai chi will give your nerves, muscles and reflexes a tune-up, so you’re less likely to fall and hurt yourself. Yoga and stretching exercises can help with this, too, and they’ll also increase your flexibility.
Your healthcare provider may want you to avoid high-impact exercise if you have osteoporosis. And regardless of the activities you choose, doing them safely and with the proper protective gear is essential. Follow your doctor’s guidance on what kinds of exercises you can do, what activity level is best and how you can exercise safely.
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