Osteoporosis Exercises for Older Women

Tamsen Butler
senior woman walking

Osteoporosis exercises for older women provide a great way to prevent further deterioration of bone mass and density. If you suffer from osteoporosis, certain exercises are much more effective at improving your bone mineral density (BMD) than others. Read on to find out which exercises are best for you.

Before Starting an Osteoporosis Exercise Program

Osteoporosis can have an impact on what exercises you can do safely, especially if your condition has progressed since you were first diagnosed. Safety is of utmost importance when selecting an exercise regimen with osteoporosis.

Talk to Your Doctor

Whenever you begin an exercise regimen, you should contact your doctor for an evaluation and discuss the types of exercises you are interested in doing. Some movements may cause injury or aggravate current injuries, especially high-impact exercises. Your physician may want to conduct a bone density scan before clearing you for exercise.

Start Slow

Don't overdo it when you first start exercising. Your body needs time to build up strength and endurance; pushing your body to do a movement it's not prepared to do can result in injury.

Effective Osteoporosis Exercises for Older Women

If you already have osteoporosis, you will not be able to recover bone loss, but you can stop it from getting worse. Calcium is absorbed into the body when there is a need for it and exercise is one of the best ways to increase the demand for calcium. If you choose not to do anything, your bones may become much more brittle, and you might be more susceptible to broken bones due to a fall.

Three Types of Osteoporosis Exercises

Three of the best types of osteoporosis exercises for older women are flexibility, resistance, and weightlifting.

Flexibility

Flexibility exercises help prevent injury because your joints are able to bend much easier if you happen to fall. Stretching frequently is also important for those with osteoporosis.

Group of older women stretching
  • Yoga (modified to reduce twisting of the body and bends at the waist) increases flexibility. Find a yoga instructor who understands the special needs of participants with osteoporosis.
  • Pilates (modified as above with yoga) can help strengthen your core. Note that not all Pilates moves are appropriate for those with progressed osteoporosis.
  • Tai chi can additionally offer stress relief with its slow, fluid movement.

Strength Training

Strengthening your muscles can help protect your bones, and can actually help delay or avoid the onset of osteoporosis. Strength training involves using weights and performing specific movements. You can use either free weights or specific machines designed for strength training - or you can use resistance bands or body weight. Speak with a physician, physical therapist, or certified personal trainer who is well-versed in clients with osteoporosis to find out which strength training exercises are suitable and safe for you. Common strength exercises recommended for people with osteoporosis include:

  • Biceps curls with light weights are a fairly safe strength exercise that doesn't require bending at the waist.
  • Planks, when done with correct form, can be a suitable full-body strengthening exercise that will strengthen the core and spine.
Woman in plank position

Weight-Bearing Aerobic Exercise

Weight-bearing exercises are aerobic and include walking, dancing, and low-impact aerobics. Consult with a medical professional to inquire as to which aerobic exercise is appropriate for you. It is best to do weight-bearing movements for at least 30 minutes a day (if allowed by your physician) even if you break it up into smaller increments. Aerobic exercise additionally benefits your heart.

Osteoporosis Exercises to Avoid

Your medical professional will advise you as to which exercises you should avoid, as it can be different for each individual. In general, though, it's generally advisable to avoid these exercises:

  • High-impact activity like running and jumping
  • Strength training involving heavy weights
  • Exercises involving twisting and bending at the waist
  • Crunches, sit-ups, or anything putting pressure on the spine
  • Any exercise that aggravates existing injuries
  • Any exercise that is painful

Have Fun With Exercise

Exercise can sometimes feel like a chore, but if you do it with others, it can turn into a great social activity. Many senior centers have exercise classes you can join, or you can invite people from the center to do some workouts with you. The more people you can find who want to exercise with you, the better your chances are at staying motivated and keeping yourself physically fit. It's time to take back control of your body and have fun while doing it!

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Osteoporosis Exercises for Older Women