There are many things that affect your risk for osteoporosis, with the primary modifiable factors being smoking, drinking and a sedentary lifestyle. However, the following exercises can help prevent or limit the effects of osteopenia and osteoporosis:
Strength Training: By using resistance of some type, whether it be weights or bands, we strengthen the muscle and, most importantly for osteoporosis, we strengthen the bone where the muscle attaches. Many women, who are more at risk than men, avoid strength training but this type of exercise is crucial to building and maintaining bone mass and quality. It is key to strengthen the posterior chain (or muscles through the back portion of our body) to maintain good posture and prevent rounding of the upper back (“hunchback”, or kyphosis), which can lead to vertebral fractures for those with osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercises: The micro-impact that bone undergoes during weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jumping, running, also helps to maintain bone integrity. A Cochrane review determined that dynamic, weight-bearing, high force exercise leads to the greatest improvements of bone mass.
Flexibility Exercises: By improving overall function and postural control with flexibility exercises we can ward off osteoporosis. Each of our muscles have a certain length at which they function optimally. If the muscles are shortened (tight) or too loose they may not be able to respond ideally. Properly responding muscles are essential to all our daily movements, such as quickly correcting our movements to avoid falling after stepping on a pebble.
Balance Training: Our ability to balance ourselves comes from many different systems within the body and regular balance training helps to prevent falls.
These types of exercise canbe used for prevention, or to assist those with osteopenia or osteoporosis. Those with osteopenia or osteoporosis should alter the amount of impact of their exercises.
Regardless of your health condition, a physiotherapist can always help coach and guide you in the type, amount and frequency of exercise that is best for you.