Weight Bearing Exercises for Osteoporosis

One of the best ways of preventing and dealing with thinning bones is to carry out weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis. There are many gains to be had from performing physical activity including: an increase in bone and muscle strength; better posture and balance; increased range of motion; decrease in pain; and a better sense of well-being.

Exercises to Prevent Osteoporosis

If you are suffering from osteopenia or osteoporosis you are at an increased risk of getting a fracture through performing exercises incorrectly or by losing your balance when performing them. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you do two things before you start your program.

  1. Before you start your planned osteoporosis exercise regime, it is important to discuss it with your doctor. They may recommend that you avoid certain exercises, depending on your condition. For example, performing strenuous forward and back bends as part of Yoga technique may strengthen the back in a non-osteoporotic person, but have an increased risk of fracture in a person who has reduced bone mineral density of the spine.
  2. Consult with a professional trainer to ensure that you are carrying out the exercises correctly. Be sure to tell him/her that you have thin bones, as they will then be able to devise a program specifically for your needs.

If the doctor considers you are at risk of receiving a fracture by performing strenuous weight-bearing exercises such as tennis and running, then they may suggest that you only partake in low-impact exercises, and starting off slowly at first. Some good low-impact exercises are walking; elliptical machines; stair machines; and low-impact aerobics.

What kind of exercise helps prevent osteoporosis? – Recommended Weight Bearing Exercises for Osteoporosis

  1. Brisk Walking: Research has shown that nurses who walk for four hours a week or more, had a 41% lower incidence of hip fractures than those who walk less than an hour a week. Incorporating a daily walk outdoors will not only strengthen your bones but  will also allow your body to synthesize vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. You do not need to walk great distances in order to benefit from this weight bearing osteoporosis exercise. The best method is to take regular short but brisk walks of around 10 minutes every day. There is little additional benefit (other than the joys of being outdoors) to be had from walking for longer periods than this; it is therefore better to have 5–7 ten-minute strolls per week than it is to have two or three longer walks per week.
  2. Energetic Dancing: This is a great way to increase bone strength. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it involves a lot of impact. Dancing will also aid in balance, which in itself will help to reduce the risk of taking a stumble and breaking a bone.
  3. Jogging/Running: As this is one of the high impact weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis treatment it is important that you consult your doctor before carrying out this activity.It is best to avoid hard surfaces (consider cross-country style running) and to wear correctly fitting sports shoes that will cushion your joints from some of the impact. Running three times a week for 20 minutes is an ideal preventative measure for people who have not developed osteoporosis as it has been shown to increase the bone mineral density in the hip and the spine.
  4. Weight Training: Lifting free weights or using machines at a gym is a great way of performing resistance training. There is an advantage in using weight machines in that you minimise the risk of injury as most are designed to offer support for your back. It is important to be trained by a professional on how to use the machines/weights correctly. They should also devise a program for you that will be beneficial for increasing bone strength; this program should ideally include a few repetitions of heavier weights as opposed to numerous repeats using a light weight. It is important to start with light weights and then build up to the heavier ones over a long period in order to minimise risk of injury. It is recommended to perform strength-training exercises for osteoporosis two to three times a week.
  5. Jumping: Like running, this is an high impact activity and your doctor may recommend that you avoid this exercise if you already have thin bones. Jumping can be very beneficial as a preventative measure for non-osteoporotic people as it helps to increase balance and it improves hip bone density.
  6. Golf: If you carry your own clubs then you are combining weight-training with walking. A correct swing will also add to upper body strength, suppleness, and balance. Again, this is a good osteoporosis preventative measure, but due to the stresses of the game, and the often very poor swing techniques used by many golfers, you should discuss whether you should play the game with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with the condition.
  7. Combination of Walking and Jogging (Walk-Jog): As it is only the first ten minutes of walking that is effective at increasing bone strength it is good practice to combine walking and jogging.
    The Walk-Jog is a great weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis
    The Walk-Jog is a great weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis.Image by Ed Yourdon: CC.

    It is best to perform this exercise three times per week for about 20 minutes. At first you will spend the majority of your time walking briskly with a few jogging steps thrown in. Over time, increase the amount of jogging repetitions in the walk-jog procedure so that it is equal or more than the walking. For example, 40 seconds of walking, followed by 60 seconds of jogging.

  8. Racquet sports: these sports add a great deal of stress to the arms, wrists and shoulders. They also involve a lot of twisting. Therefore, they are a good activity for strengthening spine and hip bones. Unfortunately, there is also a high risk of fracture associated with racquet sports. These high impact weight bearing activities are best for non-osteoporotic people who want to use them to prevent osteoporosis. Due to the high risk of injury, they are not usually recommended to people who have already been diagnosed with the osteoporosis condition. Again, it is very important to consult with your doctor before partaking in racquet sports.

In addition to the above-mentioned weight bearing exercises, many other non-impact exercises are of benefit for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Some of these, such as Tai Chi and Yoga have been shown to increase bone strength and improve balance. Whilst others such as aquarobics are beneficial in increasing muscle strength and balance.

It is helped that you find this information on weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis of great use. incorporating one or more of these activities into your life can help dramatically with the condition.