“I am 59 and have been diagnosed with osteopenia. I also have asthma and cannot really do outside walking. Is there any way to help bone loss using a recumbent bike? I have arthritic knees which is why I have the bike. But I could walk through the house. What would your opinion be on the recumbent bike verses walking through the house for helping to maintain bones? If it is walking, how long do you walk? Thank you. Your video is superb!”
Thanks and nice to hear from you! As the years go by, it can be a challenge finding that balance between protecting our joints and keeping fit. Osteopenia is sure a wake-up call for taking action to stop further bone loss.
Have you ever seen a physical therapist (PT) about exercises for your knees? It could be very beneficial for you. How are your knees with the leg exercises in my workout? Sometimes, as the muscles that support the knees get stronger, there can be less knee pain. But, everyone’s knees are unique, so a PT’s advice could be crucial to your fitness.
A recumbent bike is terrific for strengthening your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. If those don’t work well, nothing else will either! But, biking of any kind isn’t weight bearing or considered to be beneficial for bones, unless you’re standing up on the pedals.
The two types of exercise that scientists know the most about that build and maintain bone density are weight-bearing and strength training exercises. Weight bearing means on your feet so that the whole skeleton needs to work against gravity. But, if being on your feet is too painful for your knees, you’ll have to work around that and get your cardiovascular/aerobic exercise in any way that you comfortably can. Just make sure that you strength train two to three times a week to compensate for not doing weight bearing exercise.
How about standing up more often throughout the day? You don’t need to stand up all day, but stand up frequently. This gives gravity a chance to work on our bodies and bones. In her book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Dr. Joan Vernikos, a NASA scientist for 30 years explains why simply standing up often is great for your skeleton. “…if you stand up 15 times over the course of , say, one hour, your body sees it as 15 new stimuli and responds every time you stand…Consequently, standing up 15 times throughout your day…is more effective than standing and sitting 15 times in rapid succession.”—in terms of the effects of gravity on the body and bones. She emphasizes that the pull of gravity is “…from head to toe, so gravity’s maximum effect is felt when you are standing.”
Have a look at my DDM: Daily Dose of Movement blog post for more information.
It can be fun, finding excuses to stand up frequently. Whenever I pick up the phone to make a call or type a text, I stand up. When it rings, I stand up. I often put my laptop on a box when I type or if I’m sitting, stand up every 10 minutes.
Now, as far as how long to walk, I’d get in at least the minimum physical activity recommendation of 30 minutes per day. In your home, you could use a walking DVD, like one of Leslie Sansone’s, to make it more interesting and keep your intensity up. Research has shown that people who are on their feet at least 4 hours a day have stronger bones than those who aren’t.
I admire your commitment to being active and taking action to help maintain your bones. Excellent research shows that bone loss can be slowed or halted with a good strength training program and weight bearing exercise. Keep up the great work, Lani!