Did you know there are different types of osteoporosis? While white women are at the greatest risk, the disease does not discriminate. Men and women of all ethnic groups can develop osteoporosis. So can children and teenagers.
In one study, postmenopausal women who participated in a strength training program for a year saw significant increases in their bone density in the spine and hips, areas affected most by osteoporosis in older women.
Maintaining strong muscles through weight training helps to keep up your balance and coordination -- a critical element in preventing falls, which can lead to osteoporosis-related fractures.
"We lose so much muscle as we age that by the time we're 70, we only have about 50% to 55% of our muscle mass left," says Beatrice Edwards, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and director of the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "That explains why we feel weak and tired as we age, and we can prevent some of that with weight training."
Getting Started on Weight Training for Osteoporosis
How should you start weight training for osteoporosis? Focus on the back and the hip, says Don Lein, MS, PT, a physical therapist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham's Spain Rehabilitation Center and its Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Clinic. Those are the areas most damaged by bone loss, and the areas most at risk from osteoporosis-related fractures.
"Good exercises include hip extension, hip abduction and adduction, and hip flexion -- anything that works around the hip," he says. "Backward bending is also good."