Too Fit To Fracture

Written by: Melisa Arnette, PT, DPT- Director of Rehab & Alternate Administrator for Capitol Home Health

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Do you consider yourself to be fit? When assessing fitness, most of us think about our cardiovascular or muscular fitness. Although this is important, as we age, we should broaden our concept to include skeletal or bone fitness.

After age 30, our bones have an increased tendency towards loss of density. In some individuals this leads to osteoporosis, which increases fracture risk. The good news is there are several steps you can take to increase your “bone fitness”. Exercise is important for everyone, but especially those persons diagnosed with osteoporosis. Here are a few reasons why exercise is important for individuals with osteoporosis:

To build muscle strength.

  • Strength training improves muscle mass and strength.

To prevent falls.

  • Performing challenging balance exercises can improve balance and coordination which lowers fall (fracture) risk.

To protect the spine.

  • Exercises that focus on muscles that extend your back can help improve posture- reducing risk of spinal fractures.

To slow the rate of bone loss.

  • Resistance training along with weight bearing aerobic physical activity can help to prevent bone loss as we age.

Whether or not you have osteoporosis, regular exercise can improve health in many ways. People who exercise regularly have lower rates of depression, heart disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes and many other chronic diseases. Your exercise routine should include strength training, posture training, balance training and weight bearing aerobic physical activities.

Strength training should target the muscle groups of the upper back, chest, shoulders, arm and legs. These exercises should be performed at least two days a week. Machines, such as those found at the gym, often require forward bending and twisting to perform the exercises. If you are at a risk of spinal fracture, it is best to seek training for proper use.

Posture training is a bit tricky as most everyone is able to identify and assume good posture, but unsure what activities they should perform to sustain optimal alignment. These activities should be performed daily.

Activities that improve balance and coordination may reduce falls and fractures. However, when balance is challenged, there is an increased risk of falling. Be sure to use safety precaution such as having a stable surface or someone spotting you. The greatest benefits occur when these activities are performed daily.

Everyone should participate in weight bearing aerobic physical activity to maintain strong bones and improve overall health. If you choose aerobic activities that also challenge your balance such as dancing or an aerobics class, you can achieve two goals with one activity. These activities should be performed for 30 minutes, 5 times a week.

If you are not accustomed to exercise consult a doctor, physical therapist or other health professionals. They can provide guidelines regarding specific exercises that will benefit you with safe parameters to achieve strong, “fit” bones.