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Walk Your Way to Stronger Bones

Thursday, Nov 17, 2016
Walking Osteoporosis

You can reduce your risk of osteoporosis just by walking. Try these exercises to boost your bone health.

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak and more likely to break. More than 40 million people in the United States either have osteoporosis or are at higher risk due to low bone mass. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is most common in older women. It is estimated that as many as half of all women and a quarter of all men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Did you know that walking is the single best weight-bearing exercise for individuals with or at risk for osteoporosis? You don't need any special equipment to start a walking program—just a pair of supportive shoes.

We talked with Eileen Engle, MD, director of Women's Services at Doylestown Health, about osteoporosis and what you can do to help keep your bones strong. Below are some of her tips.

Walk This Way

  • Stand tall. Walking should be done in the proper alignment, so your body weight passes through the weight-bearing joints and bone such as the hip and spine.

  • Pay attention to pain. If it does not go away, increases with activity or requires medication, you may have an injury or even a stress fracture. Get checked by your physician before you continue walking.

  • Set goals and keep a regular schedule. Strive to walk about four times a week. If you can walk for only five minutes, start there and gradually build time and intensity.

"The eventual goal is to walk 30 minutes each day, but you don't have to do it all at once," suggests Dr. Engle. "You can try walking for 10 minutes three times a day. That should be more doable for some people."

Maintain comfortable and even breathing. If you feel short of breath, slow down or stop The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following exercises to build bone density and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Weight-Bearing Exercises

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Playing tennis

Resistance-Training Exercises

  • Strength training/free weights
  • Elastic exercise bands

A word about weights. "If you’re going to use free weights, start with something light, like two or three pounds. The goal is to build up muscle strength, not become a body builder," says Dr. Engle. "You also want to avoid injury."

Balance, Posture and Functional Exercises

  • Yoga
  • Toe and heel raises
  • Tai Chi

About Doylestown Health's Osteoporosis and Bone Health Program

Doylestown Health's Osteoporosis and Bone Health Program provides evidence-based care for patients who suffer from osteoporosis, low bone density and fragility fractures. The program brings together providers from orthopedics, endocrinology, emergency medicine, gynecology, primary care, rehabilitation therapy, pharmacy, nutrition, pathology and other specialties to provide comprehensive, coordinated care. To find a bone health specialist or learn more, visit osteoporosis and bone health web site or call 215-345-2065.

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