Exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. If you've already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, appropriate exercise can help maintain your present bone mass.
It is well known that exercise builds muscle, stamina and endurance, but it also builds and maintains the amount and thickness of bone (bone mass and density). Stronger bones help to reduce the risk of fractures.
Below are the four types of exercise that health professionals recommend for building and maintaining bone health.
1) WEIGHT BEARING exercises encourage your body to rebuild bone by putting your skeleton under stress so it will get stronger. It's as simple as including some combination of walking, hiking, stair climbing or dancing into your daily life. To be effective, experts recommend at least a half hour (doesn't have to be at one go) of moderate to vigorous exercise 5 times/week and as little as 3-5 miles/week.
You'd be amazed at how easy it is to accumulate that mileage. Instead of getting frustrated by driving around and around the parking lot to get the nearest space, try one of the furthest spots and walk. If you're shopping, you'll be carrying and/or pushing your cart of goods back to the car, building bone while you do it. Whenever you can, choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator. If your job keeps you sitting at a desk most of your day, get up each hour, walk around, do some chair squats, heel raises or wall push-ups. Are you in the habit of sitting and eating at your desk for lunch? How about taking a walk or seeking out some stairs? Your mind and body will thank you for it.
2) RESISTANCE EXERCISE includes any activity where you work against the weight of another object. This includes using free weights, machines (Pilates, Gyrotonics, TRX), stretchy bands or tubes as well as exercising in water. For best results perform any combination of the above 2-3 times/week. Give your muscles a chance to recover by taking a day or two off in between workouts and engaging varying muscle groups on a daily basis.
3) CORE STRENGTHENING is also critical for overall bone health. This includes exercises to strengthen your abdominals, low back, hips, buttocks and other muscles that support your spine (most common fractures are of the spine). Pilates, Yoga and TRX are highly effective core strengthening exercises and as an added bonus, they help improve balance, thus reducing the risk of falling.
4) FLEXIBILTY is important to help maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints and ensure freedom of movement. Daily stretches will help prevent injury and keep you limber, mobile and resilient to the stresses of life.