New exercise recommendations for osteoporosis sufferers

Not sure what kind of exercise is safe when you have osteoporosis? Osteoporosis Canada has just released new exercise recommendations for individuals with osteoporosis or osteoporotic vertebral fractures.

Those with osteoporosis or those at a risk of developing the disease can help prevent bone loss (and fractures and falls) by combining aerobic exercise with muscle strengthening and balance training, says the organization.

weight training

According to Osteoporosis Canada, falls are still the leading cause of hip fractures among older adults, responsible for 63 to 83 percent of hip and non-vertebral fractures and about 45 percent of vertebral fractures.

“Strength training exercises are key to maintaining strong bones and increasing muscle strength,” says professor Lora Giangregorio from the University of Waterloo, who developed the new recommendations with a group of experts. “There is clear evidence that performing challenging balance exercises can reduce falls, especially if performed most days of the week. We propose a shift away from aerobic-only exercise regimes to those that emphasize strength training and balance training in addition to aerobic training, to achieve the greatest health benefits.”

They recommend that people at high risk work with a physical therapist to design a program that can help reduce their fracture risk.

“Many Canadians with osteoporosis avoid exercise because they are afraid of falling,” says Helen Johnson, chair, CPA Senior’s Health Division. “Knowing that programs have been designed with these guidelines in mind will also help individuals remove barriers to exercise.”

Learn more about osteoporosis and ways to help prevent it here.

Photography courtesy of Flickr Commons/David Shah