How do I start exercising for improving bone density

Hi All,

I was diagnosed a year ago with osteoporosis in spine (T -3.1) and osteopenia in hip (T -2.6). I have been on Calcium and Vit D supplementation and exercising regularly.

I have decided to give exercise a boost as I read more and more alarming stories of osteoporosis medications and would like avoid them as much as possible. My current routine is working my upper body with a pair of 10LB dumbbells and lower body with squats. I also get some walking over the weekends. I feel my exercise routine is not challenging enough and want to seek professional advice.

So far I have read Sara Meeks book but little else on exercises for osteo patients. Question is, where do I go for exercise advice? Are there PTs who specialize in working with osteoporosis patients? Are there any good educational resources that others have used?

Report post

20 replies. Join the discussion

I have a couple in addition to Sara's book. In Strong Women, Strong Bones by Dr. Miriam Nelson there are some good exercises. Also Yoga for Osteoporosis by Dr. Loren Fishman is very good -- lots of options based on your current ability. I have been working with a PT and find that many of the exercises he recommends (all good ones) are also found in either yoga or Sara Meeks book, in similar forms. Don't discount the exercises that look too easy (I did initially) - with good form they can be very effective.

Report post

i actually quit my job and got hired with a landscaping crew in order to force myself into hard physical exercise, and boy do i get it. not every day of the week b/c some days are really relaxed but those other days are really hard core with a lot of shoveling, moving wheelbarrels to and fro, digging holes for planting etc. plus the sunshine is nice. (i used to be an indoor personal assistant). Otherwise i was afraid i wouldnt be disciplined enough to keep it up (exercise). i also take D3 and drink nettles tea for calcium, eat well etc... i wont go on a biophosonates, the side effects arent worth it for me. i would rather risk fractures than a dead jaw or a burned out esophagus.

Report post

One of the ways exercise increases bone density is by stimulating the activity of the bone producing cells. The way to stimulate these cells is by compressing the bone, as with weight lifting.

The stimulus is not bone specific (theoretically), and it is slow. So if you do bone compression exercises on your least-likely to fracture bone then you get the benefit of overall increased bone density without the risk of fracturing your weaker bones.

Report post

Millo:
Where did you find that information?

Report post

The main concern for exercise for osteoporosis is, to me, safety. It is important to seek out a professional who is knowledgeable in the management of osteoporosis and not to "self-select" exercises. All books and DVDs that tout benefits to the bone may actually not be good at all as they are fairly "generic" exercise and also may contain contraindicated movements. Watch out for "experts" in this field -- there are many who really don't know what they are doing or saying.
Check into Sequoia Health's posts for good advice on exercise also.
Bone density is just one part of bone strength and health and focusing on that can be an exercise in futility. Focus instead on alignment, body mechanics, balance, weight-bearing, etc; avoid spinal flexion, rotation, side-bending as these movements increase risk of injury, and seek out professional advice. Also important is to check for secondary causes of your osteoporosis as there may be something you can do for that and your bone health will improve as a result.
The whole thing can be complicated.
The exercises in my book appear simple but, as mmg2 said, they look simple but, if done correctly, can have profound results. Simply lying on the back once a day has been shown to relieve back pain and fracture incidence. Don't think you have to do vigorous activity to improve bone health. It's not necessary.

Report post

I understand that lying on the back would relieve back pain and reduce the incidence of fracture, that's just common sense, but how does that stimulate bones to start regenerating?

I think the question the OP had was what things he could do to help regenerate bone strength/density other than what he's already doing. Lifting weights seems like a good start.

Report post

Hi Sara, Good for you. If Millo keep that up he well have a fracture for shore, If he has Osteoporosis. Thanks for U note to me.
I now have more Eye trouble. i will at least see find for 5 years,Then i be 81 and who care ? lol

Report post

Thanks for all the responses!

@mmg2, after reading your reply, I realized I have the Strong Women book! Since I don't remember it at all, I will read it again. I am not so sure about the Yoga approach given my issues at this time, but I will give it a read.

@Sara, I will take your advice and keep doing the exercises from your book. But I do have the ability to do more weights training (I am 50yo male) and would like to work a little harder. For obvious reasons, I don't want to start hitting weights on my own. I want to train with someone whose specialty is working with osteoporosis patients. But, I am having a hard time finding anyone where I live.

Report post

Phil
There is an excellent osteoporosis exercise program in Fullerton at St. Jude's Physical Therapy Department
(714) 871-3280
The physical therapist in charge of the program focuses on bone health and is a NOF advocate. The PT department is equipped with the machines at gyms. I understand it may be a distance for you, but it may be worth your time.
Sandi

Report post

Sara, et al,

I am 69 y/o and have had osteoporosis in the spine and hip for quite a few years now, as well as fibromyalgia. Do you have any suggestions for exercises besides the treadmill which I try and do 2x a week as well as some of the other not so heavy machines with lite weights on them.

I have also heard of yoga. Are there any easy books or DVD's with the exercises. I went to one Pilates class which was supposed to be beginner or easy and it was not. I think some of their moves were taken from the yoga, it looked like to me.

If some of yoga moves are not to hard it probably would be good for me. Not sure how good I would do though just by trying to do them at home by myself but may not have much choice.

I have seen some DVD's on yoga but do you know of any that would be fairly easy or not to hard for a not to flexible gal with Fibromyalgia ?

Thanks for any help in advanace!!
Granni

Report post

PhilM:
Try contacting Woody from Sequoia Health. He can lead you into more aggressive, yet safe and effective, exercise.

Report post

I have recently started using DVD's by Leslie Sansone. Great WALKING programs you can do in your home.
She also recommends yoga for strength and balance which are necessary for supporting good bone health.

Report post

A month ago I was told I had very low Vit D. PCP said take a Vit D supplement. But I don't know how much, type? Then had a bone density test and was told I have osteoporosis in my spine and osteopenia in the hip. Obgyn prescribed Boniva.
So here I am with my first pill of Boniva and a Vit D3 bottle of 1000 mg I'm going to start taking every day.
What about exercise?
I feel I got no information about this and was left in the dark.
Feeling pretty scared about the whole thing now.
I hope I will find some answers and comfort here.

Report post

I DON'T LIKE TO EXERCISE AND I HAVE OSTEOPENIA...BUT I GO TO COSTCO AND GET CALCIUM WITH D3 AND K AND E COMBINED...IT IS WORKING...SO INSTEAD OF EXERCISING I CLEAN THE HOUSE...THAT IS EXERCISE WHEN YOU HAVE MY HUBBY:) WALK AND STRETCH...YEP, STRETCHING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF BED...EVERYTHING IS TIGHT AFTER A NIGHTS SLEEP SO I STRETCH ALL MUSCLE GROUPS! IT TAKES ABOUT 15MINS AND IT IS THE BEST PART OF MY DAY AS I HAVE SPS AND IT MAKES IT SO YOU CANNOT STRETCH...SO I TAKE SUBQ IG TX'S AT HOME AND IT MAKES ME BE ABLE TO STRETCH. AMAZING THE THINGS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED UNTIL WE CANNOT DO THEM...KEEPING BUSY IS A GOOD WAY TO KNOW YOU ARE KEEPING YOUR BONES HEALTHY...THEY NEED CIRCULATION AND REST WHEN YOU MUST...I HAVE NOT FX A BONE IN 5 YRS SO I THINK THIS IS WORKING...ALSO I ONLY TAKE CALCIUM AS THE BIPHOSPHATES CAUSED ME ALOT OF PAIN...SO I NEVER WANT TO GO ON THEM AGAIN...GOOD LUCK TO YOU AND HOPE THIS HELPS YOU AS IS HAS HELPED ME...LOVE AND PRAYERS,

Report post

I DON'T LIKE TO EXERCISE AND I HAVE OSTEOPENIA...BUT I GO TO COSTCO AND GET CALCIUM WITH D3 AND K AND E COMBINED...IT IS WORKING...SO INSTEAD OF EXERCISING I CLEAN THE HOUSE...THAT IS EXERCISE WHEN YOU HAVE MY HUBBY:) WALK AND STRETCH...YEP, STRETCHING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF BED...EVERYTHING IS TIGHT AFTER A NIGHTS SLEEP SO I STRETCH ALL MUSCLE GROUPS! IT TAKES ABOUT 15MINS AND IT IS THE BEST PART OF MY DAY AS I HAVE SPS AND IT MAKES IT SO YOU CANNOT STRETCH...SO I TAKE SUBQ IG TX'S AT HOME AND IT MAKES ME BE ABLE TO STRETCH. AMAZING THE THINGS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED UNTIL WE CANNOT DO THEM...KEEPING BUSY IS A GOOD WAY TO KNOW YOU ARE KEEPING YOUR BONES HEALTHY...THEY NEED CIRCULATION AND REST WHEN YOU MUST...I HAVE NOT FX A BONE IN 5 YRS SO I THINK THIS IS WORKING...ALSO I ONLY TAKE CALCIUM AS THE BIPHOSPHATES CAUSED ME ALOT OF PAIN...SO I NEVER WANT TO GO ON THEM AGAIN...GOOD LUCK TO YOU AND HOPE THIS HELPS YOU AS IS HAS HELPED ME...LOVE AND PRAYERS,

Report post

We are into Natural Healing. My Wife had a similar finding and the nutritionists recommended a would be Great New product ....said is the best on the market. See link below and check out the content. To early to tell as she has not been rechecked after a year, but think it will do the trick short of taking all that pharmacuticial meds with all the side effects.......

http://www.vitacost.com/New-Chapter-Bone-Strength-Take-Care-Special-Value-B onus-20-More-FREE

Report post

Phil6200,
I just took a look, and in my opinion, there is not enough of anything in there to help rebuild your bones..
Sometimes its best to buy seperate vitamins, not all in one, as then you can get the right amount..

Report post

Phil2600,
I am trying to start a program to improve my newly diagnosed osteo without taking the prescribed Boniva. I have also bought the New Chapter Bone Strength supplement. However, now I find that it is useless to take the strontium at the same time as calcium and they are bound up in the regimen. Any comments?

Report post

Sorry, no nothing about strontium.....check links....

http://www.google.com/search?q=strontium&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.moz illa:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Report post

Recent studies, as described in the following medical journal articles, have shown that regular practice of Tai Chi Chuan (up to an hour a day) can actually increase bone mass up to 7%. I started doing Tai Chi in March, and although I haven't had a repeat scan yet, I'm feeling very strong. Tai Chi works your cardiovascular system, builds muscle, builds and strengthens bone, improves your balance, and is great for your emotional well-being, as well. I can't copy the articles here due to copyright agreements, but here are the cites:

"Beneficial effects of regular Tai Chi exercise on musculoskeletal system;" Ling Qin, Wingyee Choy, Kwoksui Leung, Ping Chung Leung and Szeki Au, et al.
Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, 2005, Volume 23, Number 2, Pages 186-190

"Effects of Tai Chi exercises on self-efficacy and psychological health; Arnaud Dechamps, Lucile Lafont and Isabelle Bourdel-Marchasson
European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 2007, Volume 4, Number 1, Pages 25-32

"Areal and Volumetric Bone Densitometry in Evaluation of Tai Chi Chuan Exercise for Prevention of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis;" Pauline Po-Yee Lui, Ling Qin, Wing-Yin Choi and Kai-Ming Chan
2007; Advanced Bioimaging Technologies in Assessment of the Quality of Bone and Scaffold Materials, Part II, II-1, Pages 505-515

Tai Chi is easy to learn, gentle, and relaxing. I highly recommend it, IF you take classes with a professional teacher.

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support NOF

Help the National Osteoporosis Foundation reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to the National Osteoporosis Foundation

Learn more about osteoporosis awareness and prevention

Discussion topics

Links and resources from NOF

Community leaders

Disclaimer

The National Osteoporosis Foundation would like to remind visitors and community members that the views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of NOF. Please consult your personal healthcare provider regarding any medical information that is shared on this site.