Exercise & Osteoporosis Prevention

Turns out that October 20th, 2009 is World Osteoporosis Day.  Additionally, the National Osteoporosis Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  They’ve developed several useful handouts:

25 Facts about Your Bones & Osteoporosis

25 Calcium Rich Foods

25 Ways to Improve Your Bone Health

25 Ways to Prevent Falls

While you might not be able to control some of the risk factors for developing osteoporosis (being female, Asian/Caucasian, and getting older) there are a handful of really important things you can do NOW to prevent osteoporosis. 

You may already know this but consistent exercise is one of the best things you can build healthy bones.  And the National Osteoporosis Foundation has a great article on their website.  Below is a basic run down of the types of exercises and their effectiveness in improving bone health.

Weight-bearing, High-Impact Exercises are best for building bones in people who do not have low bone mass, osteoporosis or are frail.

Some of these exercises include:
High-impact aerobics
Jumping Rope
Stair climbing

Weight-bearing, Low-Impact Exercises can also help to build bones and are safer for people who cannot do high-impact exercises.

Some of these exercises include:
Elliptical training machines
Low impact aerobics
Stair-step machines
Walking (treadmill/outside)

These exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity.

Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes
Lifting weights
Using elastic exercise bands
Using weight machines
Lifting your own body weight

These exercises can help you to improve balance, posture, and how well you move in every day activities. These exercises can also help to increase muscle strength and decrease the risk of falls and broken bones.

Some of these exercises include:
Balance exercises. Exercises that strengthen your legs and challenge your balance, such as Tai Chi, can decrease your risk of falls.

Posture exercises. Exercises that improve your posture and reduce rounded or “sloping” shoulders can help you decrease the risk of fractures, especially in the spine.

Functional exercises. Exercises that improve how well you move can help you in everyday activities and decrease your risk of falls and fractures. For example, if you have trouble getting up from a chair or climbing stairs, you should do these activities as exercises (try standing up and sitting down several times until you are tired).

Yoga and Pilates can also improve strength, balance and flexibility; however people with low bone density or osteoporosis should avoid certain positions to prevent fractures. These include forward-bending exercises. A physical therapist should be able to help you learn which exercises are safe and appropriate for you.

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

Some of these exercises include:
Bicycling/indoor cycling
Deep-water walking
Stretching and flexibility exercises
Water aerobics

So get your body movin’ today, your bones will thank you for it!  You may want to check out an old posting I did on Vitamin D supplemenation.  Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation is essential for healthy bones.