By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
We are often asked, “What are the best exercises for osteoporosis?” As with any exercise program, always check with your doctor before exercising. Ask your healthcare provider for a thorough list of movements to avoid. Adhere to the precautions you have been given and incorporate any recommended modifications. With that being said, here are some exercises for osteoporosis from the Sit and Be Fit television series . These exercises can easily be incorporated into your daily life.
General Exercises for Osteoporosis
• Walking is an appropriate weight-bearing exercise for those managing, or at risk for, osteoporosis. Walking helps slow bone loss. If you can walk, do so—even if it’s just inside your home. For those not able to walk, just standing up and bearing weight through the legs as often as possible every day is a bone benefiting activity.
• Leg strengthening exercises slow bone loss, improve balance, and decrease the risk of falls. When done in a weight-bearing position, they do double duty to build bone.
• Postural exercises are important for those managing osteoporosis because they help keep our bodies in proper alignment. Good posture decreases pressure on the bones of the spine, reducing vertebral fracture risk. Proper body alignment contributes to overall balance, reducing fall risk.
• Exercises that challenge balance skills improve balance, reducing the chance of falls. Preventing falls is an important way for people with osteoporosis to prevent fracture.
Specific Exercises for Osteoporosis
STAND UP—SIT DOWN
Before each meal, stand up from your chair and sit back down gently, five times. Be sure to land gently—a hard landing, even on a soft chair, can cause injury.
Beginning arm position: Place your hands on the armrests of your chair to help come to a standing position.
Intermediate arm position: Place your hands on your thighs.
Advanced arm position: Fold your arms across your chest.
Directions for Stand Up – Sit Down Exercise
1. Scoot forward toward the front of your chair.
2. Pull your feet back underneath your chair. They should be about hip-width apart.
3. Lean forward slightly at the hip. Keep your head up. Notice the weight on your heels.
4. Use your legs to push up to the standing position. (Help with your arms as necessary.)
5. Reverse the process to sit back down gently into your chair. (Control the descent into your chair. Use your arms as needed. A hard landing could contribute to a vertebral fracture.)
Stand behind a sturdy chair or at your kitchen sink, using the support as much as you need to for balance. Begin with your feet together, toes pointed forward.
Directions for the Side Lunge Exercise
1. Check your posture. Is your seat tucked under? Are your lower ribs lifted away from your pelvis? Are your shoulders pulled back slightly? Is your head pulled back so that it is over your shoulders?
2. Take a large step* to the side with your right foot. Be sure the toes of both feet are still pointing forward. Standing in this straddle position, recheck your posture, using the four points listed above.
3. Slowly bend your right knee slightly–straighten–bend–straighten–bend.
4. Straighten the knee a third time, but this time, push with your right foot, and bring it back next to your left foot.
5. Repeat the exercise taking a large step* to the side with your left foot.
*As your legs get stronger, take a larger step. Don’t overdo– stay within your comfort range.
Begin sitting or standing with good posture. Lengthen the spine and try to get as much distance as possible between the base of the ribs and the hips.
Directions for the Rib Lift Exercise
1. Lace your fingers behind your head and gently pull your elbows back.
2. Take a deep breath, gently lifting the ribcage away from the pelvis and squeezing the shoulder blades toward each other.
3. As you breathe out, reach toward the ceiling with one arm then the other.
4. Gradually bring the arms down in a big arc. Reach out to each side as if to touch the walls on each side of the room.
5. Bring your arms down along your sides, and press the palms back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Which Sit and Be Fit Workouts include the best exercises for osteoporosis?
If you have a diagnosis of osteoporosis, but no spinal deformity, almost any of the Sit and Be Fit workouts are safe as long as you are aware not to forward flex the trunk or lift the knee vigorously toward the chest.
Here are some specific Sit and Be Fit workouts that include exercises appropriate for those managing osteoporosis:
• Sit and Be Fit Osteoporosis Workout: VHS
• Sit and Be Fit Chair Exercise Basics: DVD
• Sit and Be Fit Season 8: VHS
• Sit and Be Fit Season 9: DVD
• Sit and Be Fit Season 10: DVD
• Sit and Be Fit Season 11: DVD
• Sit and Be Fit Season 12: DVD
• Sit and Be Fit Season 13: DVD
• Sit and Be Fit Season 14: DVD