In this Artcile, we address a common question many of you may have: “Can I improve my bone density if I have osteoporosis?” Let’s delve into this important topic and explore ways to strengthen your bones for a healthier, more active life.
Osteoporosis is a condition where bone strength weakens, making them more susceptible to fractures, especially in areas like the hips, wrists, or spine. To better comprehend this, think of your bones as constantly being built (osteoblasts) and broken down (osteoclasts). It’s a delicate balance that can be disrupted, leading to various conditions like osteopenia, osteomalacia, or osteonecrosis.
- Osteopenia: bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis.
- Osteomalacia: Osteomalacia is softening of the bones. It most often occurs because of a problem with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium.
- Osteonecrosis: Death of bone tissue due to temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to the bones. Early stages have no symptoms, eventually, it may cause pain in the joints and limit physical activities.
Why Osteoporosis Matters?
- 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk for developing osteoporosis.
- 54 million Americans, half of all adults age 50 and older, are at risk of breaking a bone and should be concerned about bone health.
- One in two women and up to one in four men will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.
- The disease is responsible for an estimated two million broken bones per year, yet nearly 80 percent of older Americans who suffer bone breaks are not tested or treated for osteoporosis.
Can We Reverse Osteoporosis?
The answer lies in Wolff’s Law – bones adapt to the loads placed on them. Increased loading on a bone leads to remodeling, making it stronger. And how can we increase this load? Through exercise!
Exercise: Any exercise that strengthens muscles pulls on the bone, prompting the body to adapt and build more bone.
- Unchangeable Risk Factors
- Gender, Age, Race, Family History, Body Frame Size
- Hormone Levels
- Menopause, Thyroid Problems
- Dietary Factors
- Low Calcium Intake, Eating Disorders
- Medications (steroids)
- Medical Conditions
- Celiac Disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, cancer, lupus, RA
- Lifestyle Choices
- Sedentary Lifestyle, Excessive Alcohol use, Tobacco use
- Protein: Include sources like soy, nuts, legumes, dairy, and eggs in your diet.
- Body Weight: Maintain a healthy weight to support bone health.
- Calcium: Aim for 1000mg daily, increasing to 1200mg for women over 50 and men over 70. Get it from low-fat dairy, dark green leafy vegetables, soy, and fortified foods.
- Supplements: Consider vitamin D and magnesium – consult your doctor for appropriate dosing.
Prevention/Treatment Strategies - Exercise
It’s never too late to start! Exercise plays a crucial role in managing and improving bone density for individuals with osteoporosis. Here are some recommended exercises that focus on weight-bearing, resistance, and balance:
- Walking: A simple and effective weight-bearing exercise that is gentle on the joints.
- Hiking: Provides both cardiovascular benefits and weight-bearing stress on bones.
- Stair Climbing: Helps build bone density in the hips and spine.
- Dancing: Fun and weight-bearing, it can improve balance and coordination.
- Resistance/Strength Training:
- Bodyweight Exercises: Squats, lunges, and modified push-ups are excellent for building muscle strength.
- Light Weight Training: Incorporate light dumbbells or resistance bands for added resistance without putting excessive strain on joints.
- Functional Movements: Focus on movements that mimic daily activities, like lifting and carrying groceries.
- Balance Exercises: It’s important to note that balance exercises don’t necessarily increase bone density. However, for individuals with osteoporosis or osteopenia, it’s crucial to reduce the risk of falls.
- Single-Leg Stands: Holding onto a sturdy surface, practice standing on one leg to improve balance.
- Yoga: Incorporates poses that enhance balance and flexibility while being gentle on the joints.
- Stretching: Include stretches for major muscle groups to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of falls.
- It’s important to note that balance exercises don’t necessarily increase bone density. However, for individuals with osteoporosis or osteopenia, it’s crucial to reduce the risk of falls. Click here to see balance exercises
If you have any concerns or need assistance in developing a professional exercise program tailored to your specific needs, it is highly recommended to consult with a physical therapist. They can provide personalized guidance, ensure proper form, and address any individual considerations related to your osteoporosis.
In conclusion, taking proactive steps can make a significant difference in maintaining and improving bone density. Remember, it’s never too late to prioritize your bone health and embrace a more active lifestyle.
Stay strong and healthy!