How Exercise Helps to Manage Osteoporosis

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Aging, obesity, and chronic health conditions, among other things, can lead to limited mobility and strength. And these issues can in turn contribute to spine, muscle, and joint problems.

Starting at age 30, our bones decline in density. And if bone mass gets dangerously low, it’s called osteoporosis. Physical exercise, particularly if it’s weight-bearing, can help you better manage osteoporosis, including its side effects.

According to the Report on Ageing and Health 2015, a spine, muscle, and joint report prepared for the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and sarcopenia (muscle loss) affect millions. And in Canada, osteoporosis affects two million Canadians, but many people only get diagnosed after they break a bone.

For many, spine, muscle, and joint problems start with mild symptoms, such as joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. As a result, the discomfort may prompt you to limit activity, leading to weaker muscles. You end up losing more range of motion and things start to increasingly hurt.

Using muscles and joints incorrectly makes it worse. And unfortunately, people may stop exercising and begin limiting their everyday activities. An inactive lifestyle can contribute to many chronic conditions, including osteoporosis, among others. Inactivity can also lead to balance issues, which puts you at risk of falling. Plus, people who have multiple conditions must often juggle a wide range of medications and all their potential side effects.

These conditions can lead to very serious outcomes, such as falls that shorten your lifespan. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

What Exercises Help Manage Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis?

Being physically active can turn things around for those with conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. That’s the power of exercise.

Exercise impacts health, but it must be the right exercise. Controlled movements that build strength and range of motion are ideal. A combination of activities, such as swimming, cardio gym machines, and low-impact aerobics, can be effective. However, weight-bearing exercise works best to help you manage osteoporosis.

For those whose range of motion is limited, yoga and Pilates can be helpful, along with further support from chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physiotherapy.

The right activity for the right person can make a big difference. Dr. John Antoniou, an orthopaedic surgeon and former president of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association, says: “You won’t reverse the damage that’s occurred, but it’ll maintain the function that’s still there.”

Exercise can help you manage osteoporosis to slow the rate of bone loss that comes with this age-related bone disease. It can also reverse some age-related muscle mass loss. With less pain, stronger muscles, and better balance, you’ll find you can do much more.

Where does chiropractic care fit in?

A chiropractor can prescribe a therapeutic exercise program to help increase your strength and range of motion in affected areas. This program can include stretching, strengthening, postural awareness, balance training, and neuromuscular exercise. However, exercise as a therapy to help manage osteoporosis can be challenging because your instinct is to stop moving once you have mild pain. An integrated approach between a medical doctor who is supporting patients with chronic health conditions and a chiropractor assisting in managing the muscle, spine, and joint components will help you become more active.

While the mentality is often to stop doing an activity because it hurts, when it comes to arthritis, you need to push through discomfort but stop when you feel true pain. Guidance from health care professionals on “hurt versus harm” can make sure exercise is healing, not hurting.

If you don’t enjoy traditional exercise, such as going to the gym, try focusing on doing everyday life activities such as walking, gardening, and playing golf.

Currently, only one in five Canadian seniors gets the recommended 150 minutes of activity per week. With help from a health care professional, like a chiropractor and your integrated care team, you can break this pattern to better manage age-related conditions like osteoporosis.

To learn more about how chiropractic care and massage therapy can help you manage your osteoporosis, contact the Pickering Village Chiropractic & Massage Therapy Clinic at 905-427-3202 and book a consultation with a member of our wellness team.


With content from the Ontario Chiropractic Association