Are you making your New Year's Resolutions for exercise? If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia and are planning on joining a class that isn't specifically for those with bone loss, be sure to advocate for yourself. Let your instructor know the movements that you need to avoid of high impact, forward bending, and twisting to the point of strain, especially quickly. Keep excellent posture and frequently check your form in the mirror.
In all cases, but especially if you have bone loss, ease into any exercise program gradually and be sure to get the okay from your doctor before beginning. Here are some guidelines and motivating resources that you might find helpful:
The American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines:
1. 150 minutes weekly (30 min. 5x wk) minimum of moderate-intensity heart-healthy cardiovascular exercise. (If you can make this weight-bearing in which you are on your feet, all the better for your bones.) Examples: Brisk walking, hiking with poles, elliptical trainer, climbing stairs–hang on to the railing!
2. Strength training 2 days per week on non-consecutive days
3. Flexibility exercises 2-3 days a week
4. Neuromotor exercise: balance and agility moves
5. Stand up often if you have a sedentary life or job.
Read more at ACSM.
This is a very hopeful article from the StrongWomen website, about research showing that even though bone density changes did not occur, there were fewer vertebral fractures 8 years later in the strength training group as compared to the control group who did not do the back extension strengthening exercises. Note: With bone loss, I wouldn't use a weighted backpack for back extensions.
In my work, I'm constantly reminded that bone density is such an individual issue and a moving target. I've seen many women slow down their bone loss with strength training. A few have built bone density and a few have bones that don't respond. Controlled studies such as the 1994 Tufts University study by Miriam Nelson, PhD, show that bone can be built at a rate of approximately 1% per year. The control group lost 2%.
Good info on weight training, (although check with your doctor or physical therapist to see what weight limit he/she recommends for you). The NOF recommend no more than 5 pounds in each hand until you discuss any weight restrictions with your doctor.
Need more motivation to strength train? Other bone benefits are decreased risk of falls-having the strength to catch yourself if you do start to fall, better balance, and more muscles that give extra padding for bones if falls do occur.
Here's to a fit and healthy 2013!
Happy New Year, Everyone!