Weight Training to Combat Osteoporosis

Check out this great reference article from The Canadian Professional Trainer’s Network (www.cptn.com

Weight training to combat osteoporosis

Did you know that weight training for osteoporosis — not just walking or doing aerobics, but doing resistance training (lifting weights) — can help protect your bones and prevent osteoporosis-related fractures?  Strength training over a period of time can help prevent bone loss — and may even help build new bone.  In fact, in one study, postmenopausal women who participated in a strength training program for one year saw significant increases in bone density in their spines and hips, areas most affected by osteoporosis in older women.

Maintaining strong muscles through weight training helps to keep up your balance and coordination — a critical element in preventing falls, which can lead to osteoporosis-related fractures.  Muscle loss occurs throughout adulthood so that by the time you are age 70, you have only about 50% to 55% of your muscle mass left (if you do NOTHING). That explains why older people feel weak and tired as they age. You can prevent some of that with weight training.

How should you start weight training for osteoporosis? Focus on the back and the hip, because those are the areas most damaged by bone loss, and the areas most at risk from osteoporosis-related fractures.

Here are seven important resistance or weight training tips:

1.Work under the supervision of a qualified, certified personal trainer, especially in the beginning, and particularly if you have any medical issues. Seek out a personal trainer who is specifically experienced in working with people who have osteoporosis.

2.Do weight or strength training two to three times a week, with at least one day of rest between each session (especially if you are working the same muscle groups at each session).

3.Do one exercise for each major muscle group, for a total of eight to 12 different exercises. Do one or two sets of eight to 10 repetitions for each exercise. (Summary: 8-12 different exercises; 1-2 sets- with 8-10 repetitions each set)

4.Lift the weight slowly and with control, for example, lift to a count of four and lower to a count of four. This slow speed will decrease the likelihood of injury while helping to work the muscles better.

5.Don’t use other muscles to help with the movement. You should be moving only the muscle you are supposed to be moving!

6.Flatten your abdominal muscles and draw your rib cage together to help brace your body and protect your spine.

7.Periodically consult with your trainer about increasing the amount of weight you lift as you become stronger.

Also, be sure to take these two precautions:

  1. If you have osteoporosis in your spine, don’t lift more than 20 to 25 pounds with your arms or against your trunk, and avoid movements that make you twist your trunk or bend forward very far. Bending back (within moderation) is fine.
  2. If you have osteoporosis in the hips, there is no specific restriction on the amount of weight lifted or types of movement. Nevertheless, people with osteoporosis in any area of the body should ensure that their activities do not potentially put them off balance and increase their risk of falling.

You may not see positive results on a bone density test immediately.  You are helping to prevent bone loss, and the changes may be relatively small each year. If you stick with your resistance/strength training, even a 1% change in bone density every year adds up to a 10% difference after ten years.  That is a lot of progress.

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