Osteoporosis is a common condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile, usually because of hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D. The bones lose minerals such as calcium more quickly than the body replaces them, leading to a loss of bone density. Osteoporosis is sometimes known as ‘The Silent Disease’ because many people do not know they have it until they break a bone. It affects over 1 million Australians (https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/)
As the bones lose thickness and density, they lose strength and are prone to fracturing. Problems with osteoporosis involves bones that easily fracture (a complete or partial break of the bone) especially in the hip, wrist, or spine. Back pain because of collapsed vertebrae with reduced height and stooped posture are common problems associated with osteoporosis.
As well as medication, it is well known that exercise and physical activity can help people with osteoporosis and can play an important role in maintaining or improving bone density and strength. However, the right forms of exercise are important, and it should be regular and ongoing to have good effect.
What are the right kinds of exercise for osteoporosis?
The ability of an exercise to build bone depends on the specific way that stress is applied to the bone during the exercise. The following kinds of exercise are the most efficient at applying the right stress on the bone.
- Weight–bearing activities and exercise that gets your heart pumping faster. Weight–bearing exercises contribute to bone health by improving the bone mass and slowing the rate of loss of bone density. This sort of exercise involves exercise done on your feet so that gravity is exerting the force exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, skipping, tennis, dancing, impact aerobics, stair or hill walking and tai chi
- Resistance strength training such as lifting weights – hand / ankle weights, gym equipment. It is best to start at low weights and progressively build up the weight and resistance to avoid injuries.
It is also useful to consider stability and balance exercises in standing. Good balance reduces the risk of falling and reduces the likelihood of fractures occurring.
Here are few exercises that will help get you started:
Reverse fly with weights
Holding a weight in each hand and with bent elbows, lift the arms up and out to the side, squeezing your shoulder blades together and then lower.
- Start in a standing position holding a weight in each hand.
- Keeping your elbows slightly bent, lift the arms up and out to the side, by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Control the movement lower your arms to the start position.
Place your hands behind you on the edge of a chair, step or box with your legs extended in front of you and knees bent. Lower and raise your body by bending and straightening your elbows.
- Sit on the edge of a chair, step or box, with your hands on the seat next to your body and move your buttocks forwards to the edge.
- Walk your feet forwards so your legs are extended in front of you with knees bent.
- Use your arms to slowly lower your body directly down towards the floor by bending at the elbows.
- Lift yourself up by straightening your elbows to complete the triceps dip.
Keep your eyes level and look forwards.
Step ups (onto a box or chair)
Place one foot onto a chair or box and step up to bring both feet together on the box /chair with straight legs and standing tall. Step back down with the same leg.
- Stand in front of a sturdy chair or box.
- Place one foot onto the chair or box and step up bringing both feet together on the box/chair with both legs straight and standing tall.
- Keep the knee in line with the foot, and behind the toes as you step up.
Step back down with the same leg and then repeat with the other leg.
Hope this helps, Deb