Osteoporosis and Strength Training
By Neil Short, Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach
Osteoporosis is called the “silent disease” and for good reason. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), more than 50% of women over the age of 50 have it, and few will know until they fall and break a bone.
And it doesn’t stop there. The NOF estimates that a full 20% of seniors who break their hip will die within one year from complications due to surgery or recovery, and most end up in nursing homes well before their time.
However, it’s not all bad news. According to The Mayo Clinic and countless medical studies, there is a simple and proven solution to preventing and even reversing osteoporosis.
It’s called strength training. Fear not, this isn’t the kind of “pump up your guns” weight training in a gym. It requires only a few simple moves that you can do at home with very little equipment, and will help maintain and increase bone density and stave off osteoporosis.
A regular strength-training regimen combined with low-impact aerobic exercise can help you increase your bone mass by up to 1% per year. Over a 10-year period, 10% bone mass is enough to make the difference between breaking (and not breaking) a hip, and dramatically improving your quality of life and overall health.
Here’s how you can get started on a program that can significantly impact your life:
Assess your risk by asking these questions:
● Are you over 50?
● Are you female?
● Have you gone through menopause?
● Do you have a family history of osteoporosis?
● Have you had any broken bones or height loss?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to start a strength training regimen.
Find a program.
There are a lot of options out there, some more complex than others. However, all you need are a few exercises and some basic (and inexpensive) equipment to start. If you can afford it, hire a personal trainer or work with a physical therapist to start. If you can’t. there are lots of books and online programs out there to get you motivated.
Talk to your doc.
Before you start any exercise program make sure to check with your physician and ask these questions:
● Is it okay for me to get up and down from the floor 10 times in a row?
● How many pounds can I lift over my head with a dumbbell?
● How many pounds can I lift from the floor, using good form?
● If I balance myself by holding on to a chair, can I do deep knee bends?
If the answer is “no,” ask your doctor what you can do to start moving today so you can start strength training with his or her approval in a few months.
If the answer is “yes” to even one of these questions, get started.
Workout 20-minutes a day 3 times a week.
The workout I’ve developed in my Be Strong Be Free program requires no other equipment than a chair and a set of steps.
Here are a few things to remember when strength training. These are true of everyone regardless of age, weight or exercise ability.
1. Always warm up for 5 minutes prior to exercising.
2. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
3. Only add weight gradually and never use too much weight.
4. Always maintain good form and posture.
5. Stop if you feel pain.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to do a routine that can get you stronger in no time.
Neil Short, CSCS and a USA Weightlifting Level 1 Certified Coach is the founder of BeStrong BeFree, a strength-training program for Baby Boomers. For more about his work, visit www.BeStrongBeFree.com.