If you have osteoporosis-or are at risk for developing it-you may wonder what types of exercise are beneficial for you. Following your doctor’s advice for medication, nutrition and exercise can help strengthen your bones and prevent fractures.
Anne Owens, BSN, MA, ERYT, a registered yoga teacher with Lake Health, explains how yoga can be safe and improve bone density:
How does exercise strengthen bones?
Yoga is a great choice of exercise for those with osteopenia and osteoporosis. As we age, some bone loss is normal. Whether you’re at higher risk for developing osteoporosis or not, working to strengthen your bones is always smart. Bones become stronger when force is applied to them. Yoga is an easy, inexpensive and impact-free way of applying force to bones, putting more pressure on bone than just gravity alone.
Many forms of exercise involve repetitive motion, which strengthens certain bones but not others. However, a balanced yoga practice involves most muscle groups, stimulating bone synthesis throughout the skeleton. And, because it is impact free, it is manageable for those with arthritis and other joint problems.
Besides improving bone density, yoga benefits balance-this can help reduce your risk of falls that can lead to fractures. Yoga also improves strength and posture, increases self-awareness and reduces stress.
Is yoga safe for people with weakened bones?
Previously, there was concern about some yoga postures in individuals with osteoporosis, especially forward folds and spinal twists. Since 2005, one study on the effects of yoga on both osteoporosis and osteopenia has not shown a single incidence of fracture related to yoga postures. That study has shown positive results for spine, femur (thigh bone) and, to a lesser extent, hipbone strength.
Yoga can be adapted to accommodate every fitness level, and registered yoga teachers are trained to help modify postures for beginners and experts alike.