Exercise Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis
Strength-training and Weight-bearing Exercises for Bone Health
In addition to dietary changes, exercise is one of the best ways to help strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis. People who are physically active generally have higher bone mineral density than people who do not exercise, which can help prevent bone damage and fractures.
However, you should use caution when exercising, particularly if you are susceptible to osteoporosis, or if you have already started to experience bone loss. Read on to learn about safe and effective exercise for osteoporosis prevention.
Why Should You Exercise to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Think of it this way—just as you exercise your muscles to make them stronger and firmer, your bones are made of living tissue which can become stronger with physical activity. Regular exercise over your lifetime can provide you with a host of bone-related and other health benefits.
Remember, never push yourself to continue exercising if you begin to experience pain or severe discomfort. Consult your doctor to help you develop a physical fitness plan that protects your bones, while making them stronger.
What Kinds of Exercises Help Protect Your Bones?
Several types of exercises can help you in the fight against osteoporosis. These exercises benefit your body in different ways, so they should be combined for the best results. They include:
- weight-bearing exercises: These exercises require that you work against gravity while holding your body upright. Weight-bearing exercises may be high-impact (for example, dancing, running, or jumping rope) or low-impact (such as high-speed walking, or using an elliptical machine).
- strength-training exercises: These exercises rely on resistance to build muscle mass and increase bone strength. You may lift weights, use elastic resistance bands, or lift your own body weight to help strengthen your body.
- balance exercises: Balance exercises, like Tai Chi, can strengthen your legs and improve your balance, which can be critical in helping you avoid falls (and resulting fractures) in the future.
How Much Should You Exercise?
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends about 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises on most days of each week. If the 30 minutes cannot be done at the same time, they may be broken up over the course of the day (for example, brief 10-minute workouts, 3 times per day).
It is recommended that you perform strength-training at least 2 times per week. However, you should talk to your doctor about the amount of physical exercise that is appropriate for you based on your current health status and number of osteoporosis risk factors.
Developing—and sticking to—a fitness routine that combines weight-bearing exercises, strength-training, and balance routines can help prevent osteoporosis and protect you against future bone damage and fractures.