More than 44 million American men and women age 50 and older have osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia. So it is curtail to know what we can do about it to keep our bone as healthy as possible.
The difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis is that in osteopenia the bone loss is not as severe as in osteoporosis. Having osteopenia does increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. This bone disease causes fractures, stooped posture, and can lead to severe pain.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones or menopause, smoking, and some medications.
Osteoporosis and Exercise
Exercise: One of the best ways to strengthen your bones and prevent Osteoporosis is by getting regular exercise. Even if you already have Osteoporosis, exercising can help to maintain the bone mass you have. When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones.
Three types of exercise for Osteoporosis are:
All three types of exercises for osteoporosis are needed to build healthy bones.
Weight-bearing Exercise for Osteoporosis
Weight-bearing means your feet and legs support your body’s weight. A few examples of weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis are:
– Stair climbing
Resistance Exercise for Osteoporosis
Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object. Resistance helps with osteoporosis because it strengthens muscle and builds bone. Studies have shown that resistance exercise increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.
Resistance exercise for osteoporosis includes: Free weights or weight machines at home or in the gym, Resistance tubing /band that comes in a variety of strengths and Water exercises (any movement done in the water makes your muscles work harder).
Flexibility Exercise for Osteoporosis
These types of exercise improve the flexibility of the muscles which are the supporting structures to the bones. Flexible muscles can reduce the stress to the bones doing daily tasks and in case of having a fall.
The Role of Pilates Exercises for Osteoporosis
One emphasis within Pilates is the alignment of the body – elongating the spine and aligning it with the pelvis, hips, legs, feet, shoulders and head. What better way to combat slouching than to focus on posture and spinal decompression/elongation. Additionally, breathing and concentration are pivotal to every exercise. If you are more “grounded” and centered in your mind, your body will respond accordingly, and you may even be less likely to trip. Furthermore, balance and control play a key role in the Pilates repertoire, regardless of whether you are on the mat or using the machines. Pilates is a whole-body experience and promotes symmetry of the musculature along with proper body mechanics. Along those lines, all exercises emphasize “the core” – the deep stabilizing muscles of the lower back and pelvis, including the deepest layer of abdominals. When those are strong and can support the body, there is less effort to maintain an upright posture and also less risk of falling.
So, should you avoid Pilates if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia? Certainly not. But you may be best to attend a mat class that is geared toward those with the condition. At least, avoid the rolling exercises or ones that involve flexing and rotating spine in a loaded position.
Our Pilates classes at Boston Back Rehab allow you to exercise in a challenging but safe environment since it is being instructed by a Certified Pilate Instructor with an extensive experience working with patients with Osteopenia/ Osteoporosis. All three types of exercise: weight bearing/balance, resistance strengthening and flexibility are the regular repertoire in each class. You also learn how to move your body in the safest way during your daily activities to reduce stress to your bones.