Fitness / Strength Training

How to Safely Practice Strength Training With Osteoporosis

If you have osteoporosis, weight-bearing exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen your bones and prevent injury.

You may not think about your bone strength very often, but you should. Bone tissue is constantly being broken down and replaced throughout the first few decades of life, and as we age that process starts to slow down.

This means you lose bone mass faster than it’s created. Osteoporosis occurs when your bones start to become weak, brittle, and subject to fractures, particularly in your hips, wrists, or spine.

Treatment, and often prevention, typically involves healthy eating and regular strength training.

Aaptiv can help with that. We’ve got classes as short as 10 minutes that are easy to fit into a busy schedule.

Here’s how you can safely practice strength training with osteoporosis, and why it’s so important.

Strength training is safe for those with osteoporosis.

“Osteoporosis, a disease that results in weak, brittle bones, is a major health threat that affects 44 million Americans each year,” explains Suzanne Andrews, president of Healthwise Exercise and founder of Functional Fitness on PBS TV.

“It is referred to as the ‘silent disease’, because one out of two women over [the] age [of] 50, and one out of eight men, develop osteoporosis.”

Many people with osteoporosis worry that strength training is unsafe, but Andrews says this is a myth. She views strength training exercises as a “must” as long as you follow certain precautions and work with an expert who knows what they’re doing.

Strength training can be used as a way to keep bones strong, build muscle mass, and reduce the risk of injury, overall.

Research shows that strength training increases bone density and the strength and flexibility of the muscles that support your bones. It helps with better mobility and functionality in your lifestyle.

It helps improve and increase bone density.

There’s a direct and positive relationship between the effects of strength training and bone density. “Your bones react to [the] stress [that] you place on them, and that reaction is increased strength and cellular density,” says Andrews.

“Simply put—weights are a good stress to make your bones stronger. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, your bones get weaker, as they’re not being challenged with weight. If you exercise with weights (resistance training), your bones get stronger.”

According to Aaptiv trainer Jennifer Giamo, weight training can also reduce your risk of breaking a bone, due to an accidental fall.

Strengthen your bones with Aaptiv’s strength classes. With classes across several categories, we’ve got something for everyone.

Another thing that will help? A diet high in calcium and vitamin D—two elements important for healthy bones.

Be sure to get a bone density test.

If you’re not sure how strong your bones are, then talk to your doctor about a bone density test.

“Half of people [with osteoporosis] don’t even know they have it, so if you’re 50 with back pain and/or rounded posture, you should request a bone density scan from your doctor,” advises Andrews.

“Most of my patients who I see in therapy from fractures, tell me they never had a bone density test until after they fell—only to find out they had osteoporosis.”

Stick to light weights and low-impact exercises.

Giamo says to focus on low-impact, weight-bearing exercise. This includes walking, or light aerobic training on the elliptical, treadmill, or stair climber.

Lunges and squats, in her opinion, can also improve hip and lower body bone density, and maintain the integrity of your muscles and joints.

“Dеаd lіftѕ, squats, and lungеѕ wіth dumbbеllѕ аrе аll extremely effective in toning and firming weakened leg and buttocks muscles,” says Andrews.

Aaptiv has visual guides that show you exactly how to perform each of these moves with proper form and muscle engagement.

“Nоt оnlу аrе thеу mоrе comfortable to do than dеаd lіftѕ with a bar, [but] ѕquаtѕ аnd lunges with hand weights offer lеѕѕ ѕріnаl compression and pressure on your lower bасk. When beginning any workout routine, start оut wіth light wеіghtѕ. Allow your muscles time to stabilize under the additional stress safely. As you become stronger, slowly build up thе аmоunt of wеіght you lіft, and over time, watch your ability to do activities of daily living become easier.”

Similarly, Lauren Lobert, DPT, and lead physical therapist at APEX Physical Therapy, recommends whole body exercises in a standing position.

Add free weights or resistance bands to increase stabilization demands on your body.

This allows you to increase the level of difficulty without increasing the weight or injury risk.

Skip anything that causes pain.

Andrews warns against any rounded back movements, such as a traditional sit-up, bending sideways, or twisting. This will help minimize the risk of a fracture.

It’s also smart to focus on day-to-day functionality as a target goal, along with mindful movement, depending on your situation. Avoid targeting the areas you experience the most pain or that feel weak.

These areas usually include the hip, knees, or lower back. Instead, focus on bodyweight and functionality. After all, you carry your body with you daily so bodyweight exercises alone can improve day-to-day movement.

Train with a professional before going it alone.

As with any workout, it’s best to get an approval from your doctor before jumping right in. Then, it’s probably smart to meet with a professional trainer who can work with you one-on-one to make sure you’re using correct form.

You’ll move better and more efficiently, which will help you feel stronger faster.

Now that you know all the benefits of strength training, get started on a consistent routine today with Aaptiv.

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