You are here
Why exercise? Because it’s good for your bones!
Regular and strenuous exercise helps children and teenagers increase their bone strength. If you’re older, you can prevent bone loss with some types of exercise. Frequent physical activity can also help your balance and coordination. You may be less likely to fall, which can arguably affect your susceptibility to fracture.
Low bone mass, osteoporosis or a history of bone breakage from minor events or simple tasks means you must be careful when attempting exercise. The first step is to ask your doctor for a comprehensive fracture risk assessment. This will help you determine the specific exercises you can perform safely, and the ones you avoid.
Your doctor and physiotherapist can design a custom exercise program that takes into account the precautions you should observe. A comprehensive fracture risk assessment can include blood tests or a bone mineral density (BMD) test. A doctor will ask about your medical history asking you questions about your medical history and your family’s. Your doctor may order a spine X-ray; a majority of spine fractures are ‘silent’, causing no noticeable pain.
If You Have Osteoporosis
A prior spine fracture from osteoporosis puts you at high risk for another fracture. You’d do best to avoid high impact exercises or sporting activities with forward bending, heavy lifting, reaching overhead, twisting, jumping, bouncing or suddenly jerking about.
Types Of Exercise
Getting Started Getting Fit
Start low, go slow - keep those two maxims in mind and you’ll do fine. Focus on exercises that are reasonable and appropriate for your fitness level and abilities. As you improve, you can try new and more challenging activities.
Always modify exercises if you are at any risk of fracture (and especially if you have a spine fracture).
Your doctor and physiotherapist can help you design a program that includes the following:
When you walk, jog, do aerobics, dance or stair-climb, you are bearing weight – your own. Also when you run and jump playing sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, squash and tennis. These are the most effective forms of exercise for keeping your bones strong, especially your hip and spine bones. Everyone should do weight-bearing exercise to maintain their bones and their heart health.
If you are in good general health, your frequency and intensity of exercise can exceed that of people at a greater risk for fracture. Those with bone health issues should undertake lower-impact activity. But keeping that in mind, swimming and cycling are not weight-bearing exercises. Water buoys the body; cycling is performed seated.
When you lift, push or pull a free weight that isn’t your own (e.g. a dumbbell), you are strength training. It improves your muscle mass. It also strengthens bone, and can increase its density.
- Posture Training
When you bend or slouch forward, you are putting pressure on the fronts of your vertebrae, risking fracture. Weak back muscles or spine fractures can lead to exaggerated rounding of the back.
When you sit or stand up straight with your shoulders back, you are training your posture. Proper spine alignment can strengthen your back muscles and better your balance and comfort.
- Balance Training
Working on your balance and coordination can reduce your risk of falling and fracturing bone. But when you challenge your balance with exercises, there is always a higher risk of falling. Play it safe: have a table, wall or chair nearby, or hold onto one, while a friend spots you. Or try gentle Tai Chi!.
It’s a vicious cycle, but you can resist it. As you age, flexibility suffers when you remain inactive. You’ll experience pain and stiffness, putting you off the idea of exercise - which in actuality, could help you. Without exercise you’ll lost bone and muscle strength, raising your risk for falls and broken bones. So try stretching! You can take it slow, and it will help improve your range of motion.
- Get to it
First consult your doctor or a physiotherapist to determine your fracture risk. Find out if you need to modify exercises to better suit your abilities or limitations. Then you can use this chart as a guide to the types of activity you might pursue, their frequency, and their intensity. Have fun!
Type of exercise
How often should I exercise?(Frequency)
How hard should I work? (Intensity)
How long should I exercise? (Duration)
What are the benefits of this type of exercise?
Weight bearing: walking, dancing, jogging, stair climbing, step aerobics, running 3-5 days of yhe week for a total of at least 150 minutes pre week Moderate to vigorous intensity (slightly breathless but still able to speak) 20-60 minutes continuously or for 10 minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day
Improved heart health and bone strength.
Reduced fracture risk.
Strength training: free weights, machines, exercise bands or body weights as resistance 2-3 days of the week If you can do more than 12 repetitions, the weights are too light. If you can't do at least 8 reps, the weights are too heavy. 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions; include all major muscle groups Improved muscle and bone strength, posture and mobility Balance training: Tai chi, yoga, other exercises designed to challenge balance
2-3 days of the week for a total of 120 minutes per week.
May incorporate balance training with weight bearing and/or strength training exercise to save time.
Beginners: static exercises (standing in one spot holding a posture)
Advanced: dynamic exercises (challenge balance while moving around)
May need guidance
10-20 minutes Improved mobility and balance. Fewer falls and reduced fracture risk. Posture training: safe movements, awareness of position and posture (and back muscle strengthening) Practise proper position and good posture every day! Be concious of posture.
Perform exercises aimed at correcting posture
Use mirrors when exercising.
Always! Less pressure on the spine. Reduced risk of falls and fractures, especially spine fractures.