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Exercise for Osteoporosis
For patients who have osteoporosis, exercise is an essential part of treatment. Just as regular workouts build muscle, they also maintain and may even increase bone strength. By strengthening your muscles and bones and improving your balance, exercise can reduce the risk of falls and resulting fractures. Remember that you're never too old to exercise.
For most people who have osteoporosis, brisk walking is ideal. The full benefits of walking come from a regular schedule at least 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 days per week. Walk briskly enough to become slightly short of breath. A little puffing shows that you're working your body hard enough to improve your fitness.
Lifting weights or using strength-training machines strengthens bones all over your body, especially if you exercise all of the major muscle groups in your legs, arms, and trunk. Following a program designed by your doctor or a physical therapist is important.
Strength training is a slow process, so start at a low level and build up gradually over several months. For each exercise, select weights or set the machine so the muscle being trained becomes fatigued after 10 to 15 repetitions. As muscles strengthen, gradually add more weight. But don't increase the weight more than 10% per week, since larger increases can raise your risk of injury. Remember to lift with good form, and don't sacrifice good form to lift more weight.
Tips for Trouble-Free Exercise
- Lift and lower weights slowly to maximize muscle strength and minimize the risk of injury.
- It's best to perform your resistance workout every third day. This gives your body a chance to recover.
- Avoid exercise that puts excessive stress on your bones, such as running or high-impact aerobics. Avoid rowing machines--they require deep forward bending that may lead to a vertebral fracture.
- Stiffness the morning after exercise is normal. But if you're in pain most of the following day, your joints are swollen, or you're limping, stop the program until you are again comfortable, and cut your weights and repetitions by 25% to 50%. If bone, joint, or muscle pain is severe, call your doctor.
- If a particular area of your body feels sore right after exercise, apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap ice in a towel or baggie, or just hold a cold can of soda to the spot.