Osteoporosis Exercise

Extensive research has clearly revealed that a sedentary lifestyle causes bones to become weaker. Often, a direct relationship is observed between muscle mass and bone density, illustrating the benefits of an active lifestyle.

A well-chosen, well-balanced nutrition and exercise plan to reduce weight and strengthen the muscles and skeletal system is a wise choice. Avoid extreme efforts to achieve weight loss, however. The hormonal changes associated with strict dieting, excessive exercise and weight loss can actually lead to a decreased bone mass, and in young women a cessation of menstruation. The primary aim in reducing osteoporosis-related risks through exercise is to give your bones a workout. The weight loss that accompanies your exercise program has additional positive effects on your health.

Weight Bearing Exercises

Weight bearing exercises are those that place stress on bones. Examples include standing, walking, and jogging.

A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlights the benefits of exercise. Even moderate levels of activity, such as walking, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis related bone fractures. The authors found that the risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women was lower in women who walked regularly, particularly in those walking at a brisk to very brisk pace (Feskanich et al., 2002).

In addition to increasing bone density, exercise has the added benefits of enhancing coordination and strengthening muscles, both which serve to reduce the risk of falling. Most experts agree that exercising thirty minutes a day up to six days a week is enough to make a substantial difference in bone health. Weight bearing aerobic exercises, such as walking, also positively influence the health of the cardiovascular system.

Of course, the kind of exercise chosen should be suitable to the individual’s health level. Activities such as bowling or golf, which cause a twisting of the body, may cause unnecessary stress in some people. Weight lifting can cause smaller unnoticed bone fractures and depending on your status may not be recommended.

General daily activity will also help keep your body healthy. These include such simple things as parking farther away from the front door to your office or the grocery store, taking the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator, and gardening. Periodic stretching throughout the day will help keep muscles limber and help prevent muscle fatigue and strain.

Be as active as you possibly can. Appropriate and inappropriate exercises for osteoporosis patients are not universal. Talk with your physician about activities, weight bearing exercises and other aerobic exercises that are appropriate for your condition.

Managing Depression in Osteoporosis with Exercise

Did you know that depression is associated with low bone mineral density/bone mass? The hormone cortisol, which is vital for many of the body’s functions, can spin out of control with depression. In addition to a number of negative health effects, high levels of cortisol hamper the production of bone cells, which results in a loss of bone density that can lead to osteoporosis.

Exercise produces endorphins and serotonin, which reduce pain reception, lower stress and generate a “feel good” response that can counterbalance depression. Endorphins also balance the effects of cortisol. Therefore, weight bearing exercise does two things for a person with osteoporosis: It helps build up bone mass and prevents depression.

One note of caution: While moderate exercise is good for you, too much can actually increase the stress on your body, causing it to produce more cortisol. Get the most out of your exercise: Endorphins are produced in as little as ten minutes of strenuous exercise, with the greatest production occurring in about 20 to 30 minutes.

Resources

Cizza, G., Ravn, P., Chrousos, G.P.