Curves (gyms for women)? Rowing?

There is a Curves gym for women near me. Would this be good exercise for someone with osteopenia?

My husband bought a Concept Rowing Machine
a few years ago. Would this be a good exercise
for someone with osteopenia?

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Poet-Lady, I know a little about Curves as in my mapcap hunt for the perfect exercise program, I spent 1 yr at Curves approximately 8 yrs ago. I'm sure you will be hearing from one of the PT's regarding rowing. Curves has several machines that I would not recommend for anyone with bone loss. Curves philosophy is based on the "faster, the better". There is one machine which twists from side to side; another machine that is for ab crunches which will have a person bending forward, another machine that simulates squats while the top part of the machine rests on the shoulders. It's not easy to avoid the machines because Curves is circuit training. Also, in my opinion, Curves is Very expensive for once or twice around the circuit. Also, please keep in mind that Curves employees (majority) only have knowledge of the hydraulic Curves machines. Most ot the employees are hired off the street with little to no fitness experience or knowledge. Do you have any other options? Sandi

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Definitely, do not go to Curves for exercise for osteoporosis. Sandi has said enough about the specific machines.
The personnel are largely untrained except to show you how to get on the machines; the idea is for people to do a workout without having to think "In-Out-No-Thinking" in 30 mins or so is the philosophy. Cost I don't know about.
Free weights are the best way to go for osteoporosis (for any gym exercise for that matter.) With free weights you add the components of balance and coordination, something you don't get on machines.
As for rowing machines, I don't like them either and they basically would be contraindicated for osteoporosis because of the constant flexing of the hips and spine. It is also done seated which is the position of greatest compression.

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I've had osteopenia for 3 yrs, the last 2 1/2 of which I have also had a Concept 2 rowing machine. Osteopenia has not caused me any problems with using the rowing machine. On the other hand, using it does not seem to have helped my bone density.

A new scan just showed that my numbers are worse than 3 yrs ago, so the erg does not seem to count as resistive exercise for the purpose of building bone.

My mother has osteoporosis, and she has been erging and rowing on the water for the past 4 or 5 yrs.

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Please, no Curves!
Sandi and Sara gave you the details. They know whay they are talking about.
Also no rowing machines. Getting onto them in the first place is problematic. All that trunk flexion in a seated position -- ow!
People seem to think that they must be doing alright (on such machines) because they haven't fractured yet.
1. Are they sure they do not have silent fractures or microfractures already?
2. If not already compromised, what are they waiting for -- a "first fracture" -- with the promise of more to come?
There are too many other -- and cheaper -- ways to build bone.
Lucy Buckley PT aka Mother Goose

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Am particularly interested in Mother Goose's comment - "too many other and cheaper ways to build bone." Can you name more than 3-4 that do not include pharmaceuticals? Please give details! Thanks, I really appreciate this.

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Mother Goose, I have to correct a misconception. If you are using a rowing machine correctly, your back is mostly straight. This is even true at the catch - the beginning of the pull.

Yes, there is hip flexion, but regardless of your bone status, you shouldn't be compressing the catch beyond comfort levels. The stroke can be adapted to allow for less compression. As with any athletic endeavor, good technique is key.

Poet Lady said she has osteopenia, not osteporosis. As a fellow osteopenia "sufferer", I am not going to limit my range of motion. At this point, I think that would do more harm than good to my general health by letting unused muscles degenerate.

Schenley

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Hi.

Poet-Lady here.

I originally started this discussion in June. Around that time I went and looked at a Curves. I didn't like what I saw. There was very little equipment. There was a couple of women doing exercises without equipment. I can exercise at home without equipment.

I am now using "Be Bone Wise", the video put out by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, to exercise at home.

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A couple of comments here.
If you are diagnosed with Osteopenia, it is more than likely you also have Osteoporosis. Remember, also, that bone density is just one part of bone strength. The BMD test is performed in the lumbar spine but most problems occur in the thoracic area. I have yet to see anyone be able to keep the back lengthened on the seated, moving rowing machine and definitely would not recommend it. Most people, when they do rowing, simply are extending the shoulders and not using the scapular muscles as intended. There are so many other great strengthening exercises--why take a chance? You also cannot go by comfort levels or what "feels good" in exercise.
"Be Bone Wise" -- I reviewed it. Please look for that post.

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Greetings,

When I started this discussion in June, I called the
company that makes the Concept 2 rowing machine.
The woman I talked to did not know if rowing with this machine would help with osteoporosis or not. I decided not to use the machine.

Have a nice day,
Poet-Lady

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Thank you Sarah for all your valuable advice on Curves, gyms, and rowing. What are your thoughts about kayaking as a safe exercise/activity?

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I read all the advice here about Curves and had definitely decided I would not rejoin.
I told this to my oncologist and he strongly disagreed with me. He said that Curves was just what I needed, ( I had conferred with him over the need for an anti-cancer drug... which can cause fractures...He also prescribed Fosomax for my osteoporosis. My recent bone density test show a t swcore of minus 3 of the spine.)

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Momof JBN:
Yes, when one is already seated on the rowing machine, the correct way to sit is with a straight back.
I,as a physical therapist, have observed countless people working in a gym on such equipment and bent forward from the waist. Correct posture is not all that common. Short of standing beside the person and constantly cueing, it is too risky an activity for me to recommend. AND besides -- getting on and off the machine puts one into a bent forward posture, a real no-no.
Lucy Buckley PT aka Mother Goose

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Hi! I have two questions, primarily for the PT's, but anyone else's experience would also be appreciated. First, have you heard of Planet Fitness, a gym in my area? If you have, do you feel it is safe for those with osteoporosis? I have not tried it and am more hesitant now after reading about Curves.

The second question is whether sit-ups done with an ab roller are safe for those with osteoporosis. After reading some earlier posts, I learned that flexion exercises are not approved. I am just wondering if an ab roller provides enough support to the back and neck to make it safe. My husband was given this exercise by a PT for herniated discs. I have been doing 50 repetitions per day, but now I'm worried.

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Bone Lady, Planet Fitness has circuit training as well as machines which are weights with pulleys, unlike Curves which are hydraulic machines. I don't think you are going to find a qualified instructor with bone loss knowledge unless you chose to bring material to educate the instructor. It may be of benefit to talk to an instructor before paying the start up fee. I'll defer your ab roller question to the professionals.

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No sit-ups. No crunches.
Lucy Buckley PT aka Mother Goose

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Hagens39:
Well, I certainly defer to the oncologist about cancer care. I hope he can respect my experience/knowledge in the area of therapeutic exercise.
Sara described very well the limitations and dangers of circuit training in this discussion at an earlier date.
She knows her weights!
Lucy Buckley PT aka Mother Goose

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I like to kayak and ask my doctor about the safety for osteo patients. He told me kayaking was good exercise since it uses mostly the shoulders?
Is there a safe and proper way to kayak with osteo?
My dexa is -4, Thanks, Ileen

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Hotchamama:
Just noted your question of late August.
We are talking about certain exercise machines and kayaking in this discussion so I shall restrict my response to this area. In other words, pharmaceuticals are not in this area of discussion. Find another discussion that is talking about them.
Over and over, we -- the PTs on board -- NOF -- the moderators -- the world wide web -- are lining out the value of certain exercise to bone building. Weight bearing exercise and resistive exercise can build bone. The stimulation of gravity and of the foot striking the ground stimulates the bone building process (called bone remodeling) in the bones so srtimulated such as the legs and back. Not the arms and shoulders. The stimulation of resistance exercise -- pushing and pulling against something -- stretch-bands, weights, the wall, e.g, causes the muscles and tendons being used to pull on the bones involved to further stimulate bone building in a different way. Aerobic exercise is great for one's heart/vascular system, and lungs -- burning up oxygen -- but does not directly add to bone stimulation. One can combine all three types in a given activity -- for example, Nordic walking.
Please got to the NOF site for further information.
Lucy Buckley PT aka Mother Goose

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Ileend:
Yes, kayaking is lots of fun. You are at risk with such.
The bending and rotation involved in getting in and out of the kayak. Doing the rowing while sitting places you at further risk. Vertebral fractures do not necessarily happen all at once -- but as a final straw (that broke the camel's back). The doctor is not looking at the whole picture -- how you go about the activity. He is just considering that it "seems" to be good exercise for the arms and shoulders -- which it it. I think we can all agree that not all activities are safe for everyone at all times. BUT kayaking is not safe for those with significant bone loss. I would not risk such an insult -- silent though it may be -- on my back and I have pretty decent bone in my spine, but I am 78.
Lucy Buckley PT aka Mother Goose
PS. You might refer the doctor to the work of Dr. Sinaki at the Mayo Clinic these past 28+ years.

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