Exercise for Healthy Bones
WHY SHOULD I EXERCISE?
Regular exercise improves health in many ways. People who engage in regular exercise have lower rates of depression, heart disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes and many other chronic diseases. Exercise can improve physical fitness, strength, energy levels, stamina and mental health. In children and teens, frequent and vigorous exercise helps to increase bone strength. In older adults, certain types of exercise help to prevent bone loss. Exercise also improves balance and coordination, which helps prevent falls and this in turn may reduce fractures. Exercise is very important for all, but especially for those with osteoporosis and those who are at risk of a broken bone (fracture) caused by osteoporosis. Because everyone is different, it is impossible to develop a “one size fits all” program for exercise.
WHAT EXERCISES ARE SAFE AND APPROPRIATE FOR ME?
The first step is to consult your doctor before you start a new exercise program. Any exercise may carry with it a certain amount of risk. If you have osteoporosis or low bone mass, or have broken a bone from a minor event such falling from a standing height or doing a simple task, you must be aware of yourfracture risk to determine the specific types of exercises that you can perform safely and those you should avoid.
A comprehensive fracture risk assessment will tell you if you are at low, medium or high risk of fracture. This in turn will assist your doctor and your physiotherapist in designing an exercise program that is safe and most beneficial for you, and identifies the precautions you need to take. A comprehensive fracture risk assessment does not rely solely on the results of a bone mineral density (BMD) test. The assessment begins with your doctor asking you questions about your past medical history, including whether or not you broke any bones and how those fractures happened, as well as questions about your family’s medical history. He/she may also examine you and send you for tests that may include blood tests and/or a bone mineral density test. Your doctor may also order an X-ray of your spine to make sure you don’t have any spine fractures because two-thirds of spine fractures are “silent,” meaning they do not cause any pain.
If you have a spine fracture from osteoporosis, this means that your risk for another fracture is high. It also means that you should avoid high impact exercises or sports that require forward bending, heavy lifting, reaching overhead, twisting, jumping, bouncing or jerky movements.