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A diagnosis of osteoporosis can be scary. Learning that you have had a silent deterioration of bone density that has left you at higher risk of fracture, pain and disability is understandably unsettling. However, even with a diagnosis of osteoporosis (or osteopenia, a milder form), Halifax seniors can take many positive steps to take control of their physical health again.

There are a lot of factors that determine the best medical management of osteoporosis for each person. It is important to consult with your family physician or specialist to discuss the options that are appropriate for you including medication, supplements, diet changes etc. Starting or continuing the right forms of physical activity can have a substantial impact on maintaining your bone density, decreasing your risk of future fracture and disability. An active rehabilitation program designed by a physiotherapist can be a key component in fracture risk reduction and improved comfort in daily activities.

If you have a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis and are planning to change your level or type of physical activity, I recommend talking to your physiotherapist or other healthcare provider about which of the following recommendations (taken from Osteoporosis Canada) are most suitable in your active rehabilitation program..

Aerobic Exercise

Weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise is recommended in bouts of 10 minutes or more for approximately 150 minutes/week. Walking, cycling and rowing all meet this criteria. Swimming, although a great aerobic exercise, does not provide the weight-bearing aspect that is particularly helpful for maximizing the benefit of an active rehabilitation program by helping maintain bone density.

Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening exercises are part of most active rehabilitation programs; for those with osteoporosis, It is even more important. Doing resisted exercises using weights, bands or your body weight not only increases your muscle strength but also helps your bones maintain their density. Bones grow stronger in response to being loaded this way.

Posture Exercises
Spinal fractures are often associated with forward bend and rotation of the spine. Active rehabilitation programs should not only avoid these movements but they should also focus on Increasing the strength of your postural muscles. This helps to reduce the bending and rotational forces on your spine throughout your activities of daily living. Therefore, the right postural strengthening exercises in an active rehabilitation program can reduce your risk of spinal fracture. Improving your posture also contributes to decreased neck, shoulder and lower back pain.

Balance Exercises
It is particularly important for people with osteoporosis to maximize their balance to minimize the chance of falling and sustaining a fracture. Strengthening exercises for your leg and core muscles will help but you also need to incorporate specific balance work into your active rehabilitation program.
There are a variety of positions and tasks that a physiotherapist can teach you to improve your balance. Additionally, practicing Tai Chi been shown to be a particularly effective dynamic balance exercise to improve stability and is a great adjunct in an active rehabilitation program.

It is important to review these four types of exercise with a physiotherapist to develop an individualized active rehabilitation program for activity that is appropriate for you. Guidance as you begin a new exercise regime limits the likelihood of injury related to your osteoporosis and also reduces the likelihood of other injury due to overtraining or errors in technique.

Safe participation in an active rehabilitation program is a great way to increase your confidence and safety in movement. With increased confidence in your mobility, you can continue to do many of the things you love despite a diagnosis of osteoporosis. If you’re ready to get started, book a Zoomers physiotherapist now to get a personalized action plan.

Book an assessment with Zoomers

Use our online booking tool to find a time that works for you!