Strength, Bones and Balance

A growing number of men and women are informed of the effects of osteoporosis and bone loss. Many things can increase your risk for low bone density, this workshop will instruct you on how to decrease your risks for developing osteoporosis and how to maintain or increase bone density through physical activity.

Regular weight bearing activity has been shown to maintain and improve bone density.
There are certain exercises that are most effective in stimulating bones and targeting the most vulnerable areas such as the lumbar spine.

Strength training using resistance is the primary focus when trying to improve bone density. The muscles must be challenged to a point greater than what they are accustomed to, so that the bones are then challenged. Resistance training can be done every other day, while weight-bearing aerobic exercise can be done every day if desired.

Balance training is incorporated in this workshop to help prevent falls and to improve function in daily activities. Strength and balance go hand- in- hand in the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures associated with bone loss.

If you have already been diagnosed with osteopenia ( beginning bone loss ) or osteoporosis, you are still encouraged to participate in regular weight-bearing exercise and resistance training. There are certain precautions to take to protect fragile bone and joints. You should always progress at your own pace and conservatively. Please use the guidance of your physician along with this information to develop your individual program guidelines.

Weight – bearing exercise: any continuous activity that is supporting your own body weight. Walking, hiking, running, gardening, vigorous housework, and some cardiovascular machines like elliptical, stairs, and arc trainer are great choices for aerobic exercise. Swimming is not weight-bearing, and cycling is only partially weight-bearing. The rowing machine is seated but is recommended because it has been proven to improve lumbar spine bone density with the repetitive pulling motion.

BONE DENSITY RESISTANCE PROGRAM

All forms of resistance training are beneficial to bone density, however, there are certain exercises that have been incorporated into research to prove their benefits. If some of these are not appropriate for individual reasons ( e.g. knee pain ) then there are many other ways to work those same muscles and bones. Those with known bone loss should begin slowly and avoid twisting or bending at the spine ( I usually advise that to most people regardless of bone loss ) and don’t add jumping exercises without your doctor’s permission and several weeks of preparatory training.

Most recommended exercises:

Walking with added weight (such as weight vest, or dumbells)

Stepping / Jumping or rock-jumps

Lunging, walking lunges

Squats, front loaded squats

Rowing

Pushing through arms, static (isometric hold while weight-bearing) or dynamic (wall push-up)

BALANCE AND STABILITY TRAINING

Sit-to-Stand chair squats

Single Leg Stance

Clock sway

Reaches ( double or single leg )

Heel – toe walk (fwd, bkwd)

Walk while looking side to side

High-knee obstacle walking

Heel raises

Turns each way in complete circle ( vestibular system stimulus)

by Kari A. Hall, BS, ACSM HFS, CLM