Osteoporosis and Exercise
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones have very little bone mass, even though they have the same size and volume, resulting in low bone density and brittle bones.
Women lose bone density rapidly around the time of menopause in their early 50s, which is why many women develop postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Men do not experience the same rapid decline in bone strength as women, but their bone density decreases by 0.5 to 1 percent per year, so they develop osteoporosis about 10 years later than women.
Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to increase bone density in premenopausal women and protect against bone loss in postmenopausal women, making weight-bearing exercise a must for anyone with osteoporosis or who wants to prevent it.
Exercise is effective in preventing and treating osteoporosis, with one study of 61,000 postmenopausal women showing that women who walked at least four hours a week had a 40 percent lower risk of pelvic fracture compared to women who walked less than one hour a week.
For postmenopausal women, at the very least, exercise increases bone density, but it also improves muscle strength, which can help prevent falls and reduce injuries, thus reducing the risk of fractures.
The positive effects of exercise on bones disappear quickly when you stop exercising. Therefore, you shouldn”t stop exercising after a day or two, but should continue to do so over a long period of time to maintain the benefits.
Recommended exercise regimens
The recommended exercise regimen to treat osteoporosis is weight-bearing exercises that stress the bones, such as calisthenics, walking, jogging, and light strength training.
The intensity of the exercise should be between light and moderate, which means maintaining a heart rate between 40 and 70 percent of your maximum, and the duration of the exercise should be at least 20 minutes, at least three days a week.
Strength training for the musculoskeletal system can be done with either body weight or equipment. In the initial stages, you can use your body weight to do push-ups, sit-ups, and sit-to-stands.
Once you”ve gotten used to these exercises, weight training with machines can be effective. It”s recommended that you don”t overdo it at first, but start at a low intensity and increase the intensity as you get used to it and gradually decrease the rest periods.
If you’re an older adult, create a workout program that includes a warm-up, a cool-down, cardio, and strength training, with a total duration of about an hour.
A word of caution
The more severe your osteoporosis, the more likely you are to break a bone, so you need to be very careful when exercising. Avoid unfamiliar movements or sudden changes in position, which can lead to falls, and make sure you exercise on a non-slippery surface.
If you experience extreme pain in your back when performing certain movements, you should visit a doctor immediately, as this could be a sign of a compression fracture in your spine.