Fact: Over half of Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis or lowered bone density. Low bone density can lead to life-altering, and sometimes even life-threatening injuries as our bodies change as we age.
However, bone is a living, ever-changing tissue. It’s fairly common knowledge that increased intake of calcium and vitamin D can prevent or combat osteoporosis, but when it comes to fighting against osteoporosis, what is just as important as what we put in our bodies? How we exercise our bodies.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are two main types of exercise you should incorporate into your regular workout routine to help prevent osteoporosis: weight-bearing exercises, and muscle-strengthening exercises. Here’s what you need to know about both of these kinds of exercise, so you can strengthen your body and protect your bones all at the same time.
Why Exercise Can Help
Sure, it’s hard to make time to get to the gym, even though we all know we need to do it to keep tabs on our waistline, decrease stress, and improve our mood. But how can exercise help prevent osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related injuries? Regular exercise can actually increase bone density, fighting against the onset of osteoporosis.
Most injuries related to osteoporosis are the result of a fall. Regular physical activity has been proven to strengthen muscles and improving balance, which dramatically lower the risk of falling. Also? Strengthening the muscles in your back lessens your chance of vertebral fractures, and can lead to increased bone density in postmenopausal women.
Need more of a reason to hit the gym? Exercise can also do the following:
- Reduce your risk of kyphotic posture (a rounded upper back) and overall improved spine health
- Increase reaction time, mobility, balance, and coordination, all of which helps to prevent falls and resulting injuries
- Improve blood circulation. Since bone is a living, changing tissue, improved circulation is a great way to continue to bring nutrients to bone tissue
- Give you more flexible joints, which lowers the risk of injury and keeps the body active
A balanced, regular regimen of weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening is the best way to not only prevent osteoporosis, but also to prevent the injuries that are often associated with low bone density as well.
What are weight-bearing exercises? Any exercise in which you move against gravity while staying upright. These include activities dancing and tai-chi (which also improve flexibility and agility), but would not include things like swimming and cycling, since you are not supporting your own body weight. Weight-bearing exercises are also broken down into two categories:
- High-Impact aerobics
- Jump Rope
- Stair Climbing
Low-Impact Exercises (These also help keep bones strong, but are safer alternatives if you are at risk of breaking a bone):
- Using an elliptical machine
- Low-impact aerobics
- Stair-step machines
- Fast walking
It’s just as important to incorporate exercises that increase muscle strength as it is to find plenty of weight-bearing exercises. So what can you do to increase muscle strength? Here are a few different exercises to try:
- Lifting weights, focusing on all major muscle groups, including your spine
- Using elastic exercise bands for resistance
- Using weight machines (again, focusing on the whole body)
- Using your own body weight for resistance, which exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks
A note about muscle-strengthening exercises like yoga and pilates: Yoga and pilates are both great ways to increase strength, as well as flexibility, especially in your core and your spine. However, some of the poses and positions for yoga and pilates could be unsafe for those with osteoporosis or those at a higher-risk of broken bones. Always consult with your chiropractor about what is safe and healthy for you.
Looking for more guidance on how to exercise to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis? Get in touch with our doctors at South Orange Chiropractic Center. Who better to help support your bone health than an expert physician who specializes in how your bones work together? Make an appointment today and take your first step towards improved bone health!