Medical Evaluation Is Key continued...
Before beginning any exercise program, it's important to undergo a thorough medical examination to determine which activities are safe for you.
There is no single exercise regimen that's best for everyone with osteoporosis. Each regimen should be specifically tailored to the individual patient based on a medical evaluation of:
- Fracture risk
- Muscle strength
- Range of motion
- Level of physical activity
During the evaluation, your doctor also will consider any other chronic conditions that can affect your ability to exercise, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If you're at risk for osteoporotic fracture, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that your doctor refer you to a specially trained physical therapist for a through physical assessment and exercise prescriptions that focus on body mechanics and posture, balance, gait and transfer training, resistance weights, and progressive aerobic activities.
Weight-Bearing Exercises for Osteoporosis
If your doctor determines that it's not safe for you to perform high-impact weight-bearing exercises, he or she may recommend low-impact weight-bearing exercises that are less likely to cause fractures and also build and maintain bone density. These include:
- Elliptical training machines
- Low-impact aerobics
- Stair-step machines
- Walking (either outside or on a treadmill machine)
If you're new to exercise, or haven't exercised for awhile, you should aim to gradually increase your level of weight-bearing exercise to 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.
Muscle-Strengthening Exercises for Osteoporosis
Programs that maintain muscular strength can slow the loss of bone mineral density associated with osteoporosis, and may help prevent fall-related fractures. Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include functional movements such as standing and rising on your toes, lifting your own body weight, and the use of equipment such as:
- Elastic exercise bands
- Free weights
- Weight machines
Experts recommend performing strength-training exercises two to three days per week.
Nonimpact Activities for Osteoporosis
Certain nonimpact activities can improve your coordination, flexibility, and muscle strength and reduce your risk of falls and fractures while increasing your mobility and overall quality of life.
Balance exercises such as Tai Chi can strengthen your leg muscles, and help you stay steadier on your feet. Posture exercises can improve your carriage, reduce the "sloping" shoulders associated with osteoporosis, and decrease your risk of fractures, especially in the spine. Functional exercises can improve your ability to perform everyday activities such as getting in and out of bed and chairs, and climbing stairs.