Do you need a workout that can be felt in your bones? Although muscles seem to be the main focus when creating a fitness plan, our bones require just as much attention. Osteoporosis — a disease that causes bones to become brittle, porous, and prone to breaks — affects millions of Americans each year. While a decrease in bone density is inevitable as we age, there are exercises that can help strengthen fragile bones.
To pack a power punch in the fight against osteoporosis, you’ll need a well-rounded fitness routine. Your goal is to incorporate resistance and flexibility training with weight-bearing exercises. These techniques will help perfect your balance and coordination, which are two crucial elements for preventing falls.
Don’t let the term “weight-bearing” intimidate you. This simply refers to exercises performed against gravity in an upright position, such as walking.
There are two forms of weight-bearing exercises: low-impact and high-impact. Low-impact exercises are best suited for those who have osteoporosis, while high-impact exercises are safer for those with osteopenia, which is when bone density is lower than normal, but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. As always, check with your physician to learn which form of weight-bearing exercise is best for you.
Aim for 30-45 minutes, 3-5 days each week.
- Elliptical training
- Low-grade terrain hikes
Aim for 30-45 minutes, 2-3 days each week.
- Jumping rope
Next, aim to do the following strength and flexibility exercises 2-3 days each week. This circuit can be done from the comfort of your home.
Hip abduction. Hold the back of a chair for balance and extend your right leg out to the side, aiming to keep it straight throughout the exercise. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds, then return to the starting stance. Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions on each side.
Shoulder press squats. Sit tall in a stable chair with a free weight in each hand resting at your sides. Push through your heels to stand while simultaneously bringing the weights up into a bicep hammer curl, with your palms facing each other. Keeping the core tight, extend both weights above your head. Return the weights back to the shoulders then hinge back at the hips to sit down. Repeat 12-15 times.
Spinal extensor stretches. Begin in a prone position with both arms straight against your sides. Slowly elevate your head and shoulders from the ground. Hold for 5-10 seconds, repeating three times.
Once you master these exercises, use a resistance band or weights to increase the level of difficulty.
Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer in Philadelphia. ashleyblakefitness.com.