If you have Osteoporosis, or fragile bones, exercise can help to strengthen bones and joints, keeping them healthy and preventing risk of fracture.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that makes bones weaker and more susceptible to fracture. It develops slowly over multiple years and is more common in those over 50.
Osteoporosis causes the bones to become more ‘ porous’, which under a microscope would look like a honeycomb pattern (see picture). This honeycomb pattern means the pores and microscopic spaces within an osteoporotic bone are much greater than that of a healthy bone. This means the bones are then less dense and therefore struggle to withstand activities of a higher impact.
Women are more at risk than men of developing osteoporosis due to the hormonal change that occurs during menopause. It is loss of estrogen during menopause is thought to directly reduce bone strength. It still remains unclear as to why some men develop osteoporosis but clinicians believe it is more likely in those with lower testosterone levels.
Other risk factors for developing osteoporosis may include:
How can exercise help Osteoporosis?
There are lots of benefits to exercise for your health in general, such as improvement of mental well-being, better sleep, and maintenance of a healthy weight. Exercising just once or twice a week can also lower the risk of heart disease or stroke.
For those with osteoporosis, the benefits are even greater, as exercise can help to maintain a healthy bone density, thus preventing fractures and pain.
- Bone is living tissue and becomes stronger with exercise.
- Strength training can help to improve muscle mass and strength which helps to support bones and joints.
- Exercise can help to improve your balance, which can reduce the risk of falls and thus fractures in those with osteoporosis.
How much should we be exercising?
Current NHS guidelines for weekly exercise are as follows:
- A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week
- This can be spread over 4-5 days at a time ( e.g. 30-minute brisk walk per day)
- Or 75 minutes of vigorous activity twice a week
- Do strengthening activities that work on major muscle groups at least 2 days a week
- Aim to move more and reduce time spent sitting or lying down.
It is important to speak to your GP first if you have not exercised in a long time or if you have concerns about your medical conditions. A qualified therapist will also be able to advise on appropriate exercises suitable for your medical requirements.
General rules to consider:
- Hurt not harm
- Exercise should be uncomfortable but not painful.
- There may be an element of soreness in your muscles that lasts around 15-20 minutes after finishing the activity, this is normal. In some cases, this soreness can last until the next day. This means you have adequately worked your muscles during the activity.
- Harm would be considered as worsening pain during or following the activity whereby we would advise you seek medical attention.
- Progression should be methodical
- Do not have sudden changes in your activity levels or intensity as this can increase the risk of injury.
- If in doubt consult a qualified therapist!
What counts as Moderate Aerobic activity?
- Brisk walk
- Water aerobics
- Riding a bike
- Pushing a lawnmower
What counts as Vigorous Exercise?
- Playing Sport
- Riding a bike fast or up hills
What can I do to strengthen my Muscles?
- Carrying heavy shopping bags
- Lifting weights or using resistance bands
- Heavy gardening such as digging
- Exercises such as sit-ups or press-ups
Do you suffer from Osteoporosis? Worried about exercising or maintaining your activity levels? …. Visit a qualified & highly skilled therapist for a thorough physical assessment and rehab programme at Hempstead Therapy Centre!