If you or a loved one have been suffering from osteoporosis, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to slow bone density loss. While it’s always safest to consult with a physical therapist or a primary care physician about treatment plans, exercise for osteoporosis can be done at home with little to no risk.
Before starting any new exercise routine, make sure to consult with your doctor about what kind of exercise your current bone health can support.
Low-impact weight-bearing exercise
Sticking to low-impact exercise is safest for those who are at risk of breaking a bone or who have recently broken one. While these exercises are not as effective as higher impact exercises, they can still keep bones strong.
Examples of low-impact weight-bearing exercise include:
- Elliptical machines
- Low-impact aerobics
- Stair-step machines
These exercises only force you to support the weight of your own body, meaning no extra weight or strength training is involved. Not only can these exercises slow mineral loss, but they improve cardiovascular health.
Some non-weight-bearing exercises like swimming are still beneficial for cardiovascular and pulmonary health, but they aren’t sufficient to stave off mineral loss. If you swim as a primary exercise, make sure to include strength training in your regimen.
If you are capable, it is strongly recommended to include strength training with your low-impact exercise regimen. Strength training requires the use of your own body weight or extra weights and resistance bands to strengthen your muscles.
As your major muscle groups are strengthened, you can expect your posture to improve, plus maintained bone density to prevent further mineral loss.
Some examples of strength training exercises include:
- Lifting weights or your own body weight
- Using resistance bands
- Using weight machines
- Functional exercises like yoga
Strength training can be a bit riskier, so performing these exercises under the watchful eye of a professional is the best way to prevent injury. Make sure that you don’t try to surpass your limits by ignoring pain as you exercise.
Exercise should never be outright painful. Feeling uncomfortable and tired is fine. Pain, however, is a symptom that your body is beyond its limits and near to injury.
We all know that the joints, the muscles, and the bones are part of an overlapping system. The strength of one of these units depends on the others. Therefore, stiff joints are a risk to proper muscular function, which is essential for bone health.
To keep your joints limber, you can perform flexibility exercises after exercise or after warming up your muscles. Some exercises pose more risk than others, so again, it is safest to consult with a physical therapist or to perform your exercise for osteoporosis under their direction to prevent injury.
Whether you’re at home or with a doctor, be sure to avoid stretches that flex or bend the spine at the waist.
One way that you can stretch your back and hips without bending is by using resistance bands to pull your legs towards you while lying on your back.
Stability and balance exercises
Exercise that helps to keep you upright will benefit you as you exercise and throughout your daily life. After all, preventing falls is one of the top priorities if you have osteoporosis.
Some examples of balance exercises include tai chi and yoga. According to the Tai Chi for Health Institute and Harvard Health, Tai Chi has been proven to reduce falls, slow bone loss, strengthen muscles, and improve focus.
Similarly, yoga has numerous mental and physical health benefits including improved flexibility and balance, greater bone density, and muscular strength. Yet, some yoga positions are not suitable for people with osteoporosis, so make sure to consult with a professional or attend yoga classes designed for people with osteoporosis.
What exercises should be avoided with osteoporosis?
Before you begin your exercise regimen, talk with your doctor about the current strength and capabilities of your bones. That should give you an idea of what level of exercise you can do without injury.
For most, high-impact exercises like running, hiking, jumping rope, or tennis should not be performed unless you are directed by your physician. These exercises increase the likelihood of fractures. However, if you can sustain high-impact exercise, it can be very beneficial.
Some low-impact sports can also still be dangerous. For example, golf, bowling, and some yoga are dangerous because of the bending and twisting of the spine.
If you’re afraid to get started with safe exercise for osteoporosis, talk with your doctor about activities you already enjoy. You may be surprised what kinds of things count as exercise!
Can osteoporosis be reversed by exercise?
While osteoporosis can not be reversed, exercise can help to slow mineral loss and rebuild bones with the help of medication and diet.
Essentially, there is no cure for this condition, but that doesn’t mean that hope is lost. Safe but strenuous exercise can prevent osteoporosis from taking over your life and stealing your autonomy.
Can walking reverse osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is not reversible or curable, but walking can help to slow mineral loss and improve balance to prevent injury.
However, low-impact aerobic exercise is not enough to rebuild bones. Strength training, a proper diet, and medication are also required to support bone growth in individuals with osteoporosis.
If you’re looking for solutions for yourself or for your senior, don’t lose hope. You can still enjoy the activities that give you joy, and you can prevent this disease from taking over.
As caregivers or osteoporosis sufferers, you don’t have to do this alone. It’s never too early to look into finding a senior community that can assist in these quality-of-life exercises and give you the support you need.
Our senior advisors are eager to help you find the perfect senior community! Call or request a consultation today to find out which communities near you are right for your needs and the needs of your loved ones.