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Here’s how exercise can help your mother manage her osteoporosis

Updated on:5 August 2020, 11:21am IST
Osteoporosis plagues a majority of women post-menopause. While you can’t always control your risk of it, certain exercises can help you manage your mum manage it better.
Dr Disha Nayak
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Osteoporosis doesn’t mean being chained to the bed. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Menopause is that time of a woman’s life when she finally gets rid of those five days of bleeding, cramps, and swings. It is the time when the reproductive period of a women’s life finally ceases. However, this freedom doesn’t come that easy: menopause is no joke! Between hot flushes, weight gain, and night sweats, and menopause also increases women’s likelihood of osteoporosis. 

How are menopause and osteoporosis interconnected?
Have you wondered why they advertise calcium supplements especially for women? Research shows oestrogen levels start dropping as a woman enters peri-menopause. This can lead to significant bone mass loss, leading to osteoporosis.

Can osteoporosis be prevented?
There are many risk factors for osteoporosis that you cannot control like age, menopause, and a family history of osteoporosis. However, you can control other things like poor nutrition, inactivity, and smoking.  You can improve your diet and start exercising to improve your bone health.

Don’t let falls and fractures disrupt your mum’s life. Rather, help her manage her osteoporosis risk. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

To keep your bones healthy you need certain nutrients in your diet especially calcium and vitamin D. Our body needs calcium to keep bones strong and it needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. 

Here are some exercises that can help you build bone mass
Natural bone loss starts occurring around the age of 35. In order to reduce this,  it is recommended that you do:

1. Strengthening exercises at least twice a week, focusing on your arms, legs, and back. You can use free weights, therabands, and theraloops.

2. Bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups that also build resistance.

3. Weight-bearing exercises that are high impact and beneficial for bone strength, like aerobics, dance workout, skipping, Zumba, jumping jacks, burpees, etc.

4. Balancing exercises like walking on your toes, standing on one leg, walking in a straight line, shifting your weight from toes to heels while standing, etc.

5. Postural exercises like chin tucks and shoulder squeeze.

6. Yoga poses like warrior pose, tree pose, triangle pose, bridge pose, and cobra pose.

Bridge pose is great for those who are suffering from osteoporosis. Image courtesy: @theshilpashetty

These exercises can help you manage osteoporosis
There is no one single plan for managing osteoporosis for everyone. Your physical therapist will devise an exercise plan based on your body mechanic, posture, resistant weights and also advise you to do weight-bearing exercises. Weight-bearing exercises are performed with your feet or your arms fixed to another surface or ground.

For starters, you can do simple resistance exercises on a chair. Like: 

1. For shoulder strengthening

  • Sit in an upright posture with your bottom at the back of the seat and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Starting with your arms by your sides, slowly lift both your hands outwards, making them meet overhead in a ‘prayer’ pose. Hold, then slowly lower your hands to your side.
  • Bring your arms to the front and slowly lift both your arms up, then bring them down slowly. Do bicep curls like this.
  • Do triceps lifts next, by taking your arms up beside your ears and bending your elbow. Then slowly try to straighten your elbows and then back.

Note: You can do this sequence with the help of either water bottles or a resistance band.

Make your parents start with simpler exercises. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. For leg strengthening

    • Sit in an upright posture, your feet flat on the floor. Tie weights around your ankles.
    • Straighten your knee as much as possible. You hold on to the side of your seat for support.
    • Sitting in the same position raise your thigh up with your knee flexed, and keep it down.
    • Now stand up, get behind your chair, hold to it and do spot marching (remove the weights if they feel too heavy).
    • In the same position, hold on to the chair and raise your leg sideways.

All these exercises can improve your flexibility, balance and muscle strength– thus helping you manage in osteoporosis. But depending on the stage of your osteoporosis some moves like bending can lead to fracture. Hence it is extremely important to take proper guidance from your physical therapist to know which exercises are safe for you.

Dr Disha Nayak Dr Disha Nayak

Dr Disha Nayak (M.PTH rehabilitation) is a physiotherapist, fitness enthusiast and a blogger. Having worked in the field of women’s health, geriatric rehabilitation, oncology, and physiotherapy rehabilitation, her idea of giving back to society is by writing on health and fitness.