I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and have always been active. Should I continue with a fitness program, and are there any restrictions while exercising?
Being diagnosed with osteoporosis (loss of bone density) does not mean activity levels should be ended. Just the opposite is true. Exercise is exactly what is needed, especially weight bearing movements which will help in the reduction of bone loss. A sedentary lifestyle will only exacerbate poor posture, poor balance and weak muscles, which in turn, increases the risk of fractures. Continuing with an established fitness routine, or introducing a new one, provides invaluable health benefits including:
Reduction of bone loss which aids in the conservation of remaining bone tissue.
Improves muscle strength, reaction time and mobility developing a better sense of balance and coordination. This decreases your risk of bone fractures caused by falls.
Endorphins kick in which increases energy levels and to put quite simply, makes us happy.
An effective exercise program to consider should include a combination of cardio, strength/resistance training, balance and flexibility. Any weekly routine can incorporate these 4 elements to help achieve the results mentioned above.
45 minutes to 1 hour of cardio activity 2-3 times a week.
Resistance training 2-3 times per week. Ensure weight-bearing exercises are included for the upper and lower body.
Stretching to promote flexibility.
Any of these activities can be combined in one workout or done individually to balance your weekly fitness practice. However there are risk factors to keep in mind while exercising:
NO forward flexion of the spine, such as abdominal sit-ups. This increases your chance of vertebral fractures.
NO exercise that will increase your risk of falling. Balance work is important, but always start slowly, and always have a stable object close by to hold, or a trainer spotting if needed. As muscle strength improves, so will balance.
NO forceful twisting motions, such as a golf swing. This also increases the chance of vertebral fractures.
Regular exercise should be an essential part of any osteoporosis treatment program. It can also be daunting to develop a program on your own. If you don’t know where to start, contact a professional who knows the risk factors to help build an appropriate exercise schedule to meet your needs, i.e. physical therapist, certified personal trainer or certified Pilates instructor. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program.
~Malia Ridgway, Certified Pilates Instructor, TRX Instructor