Bone density exercises:

You'll want to include bone density exercises in your Osteopenia treatment plan. These exercises stimulate your Osteoblasts (bone building cells) to make new bone. Research shows that these exercises are an excellent way to build stronger bones.

But before you begin, please read this Exercise Warning.   Also, if you have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, in addition to bone density exercises, you will want to do exercises to improve balance and coordination since falling can be a cause of fracture.

Balance exercises reduce the likelihood that you will fall. Preventing falls is important since most fractures come through falls. Balance exercises are particularly important if you have had a fracture already since having a previous fracture is the strongest predictor of new fractures. Please do at least some balance and coordination exercises every day.

For your other bone density exercises, you have mulriple of options. Research shows that you stimulate new bone growth when you engage in activities that put increased stress on your bones. Researchers call these activities "weight bearing"  or "resistance exercises". There are other exercises, such as swimming and cycling that are good cardio-vascular activities but because they are not weight bearing they do little to build your bone density.

Weight bearing activities and your bone density exercises

NOTE: If you have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, be sure to check with your health care provider before doing any exercises that involve jumping, hopping or activities where you 'come down hard'. If your bones are weak, such exercises could create a 'stress fracture' by applying too much sudden force. Please,  check with your health care provider! A phone call may be all you need.....

Other forms of exercise that may help

  1.  Aerobic exercise.
  2.  Dancing - especially contra dancing, tap dancing, polka and other folk dances that involve stomping, hopping etc
  3.  Gardening
  4.  Gymnastics
  5.  Jogging
  6.  Jumping rope or doing jumping jacks
  7.  Race walking
  8.  Tennis
  9.  Stair climbing - going down stairs stimulaes bone growth
  10. Weight vest walking
  11. Walking: how to make you walk build new bone
  12. Weight lifting
  13. And here are some studies about Body vibration machines
  14. Cycling but only IF you can increase resistance - as some gym machines allow. It is best to use a recumbent bike so your spine is supported.

Remember, you need to speak with your health care provider about your choice of bone density exercises. Depending on your dexa scan results there may be some exercises listed above that you should not do. You do not want stress fractures!  Also, it is advisable NOT to bend forward from the waist lest you get a 'crush fractures' in your spine. Bend from the hips.  I can not emphasize this enough.

Bone density exercises should be part of every Osteopenia, Osteoporosis care plan

Points to considier as you build your bone density exercise plan:

1. Our osteoblasts [the bone cells that make new bone] respond to increased stress on our bones. Different exercises tend to stress different parts of our body so it is a good idea to change off from one type of exercise to another every few weeks.

Example: ride a resistance recumbent bike for two weeks as your warm up for weight lifting at the gym. Then stop using the bike and use the stair climbing machine for two weeks. Or if you are working out at home, do some dancing for your warm up for a couple weeks. Then switch to walking up and down the stairs as your warm up.

2. If you are lifting weights, doing strength training, be sure to rest one or two days between sessions. If you do these exercises everyday, your muscles will not have time to recover.

3. Remember it is stress on the bone that stimulates the osteoblasts. When lifting weights, the best bone density exercise is to lift a weight heavy enough that you can only do 7-8 repetitions. When you can do 15 repetitions of a weight, go to the next higher weight.

4. Lift SLOWLY. Try to lift each weight to a slow count of eight up and then down to a count of eight down. Slow lifting is the key to stronger bones.

5. It is normal to feel a bit sore the next day...or even on the third day. But you should not feel real pain either when you lift or after your exercises. If you are feeling pain, go back down to a lower weight and lift slowly until your muscles strengthen.

6. Finally, you can practice one very important exercise every day in the privacy of your own home. Get up from your chair without using your hands every time you rise from a chair.

This is such an important skill. People who can not rise from a chair without using their hands experience falls and fractures more frequently than those who can rise from a chair without using their hands.

Try it. If you can not get out of the chair without using your hands, start practicing each day. Find a chair with a higher seat or add a phone book to raise your body higher. Keep at it until you can get up from the higher chair easily. Then start practicing from your normal chair.

If you are practicing this, be sure to use a chair with arms so you have something to grab if you need it. But work at it until you are getting up without using your hands or arms ALL the time. This exercise strengthens your legs and your hips.

If you make no other change in your activities, add this one thing to your bone density exercises:  Cultivate your  ability to rise from chairs without holding on means that your legs are strong. And often  those who can not do this simple movement are candidates for having to go into assisted living. If you want to maintain your independence, get up from your chair without using your hands!

To read about other Causes of Osteopenia, click here Causes of Osteopenia