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Exercise & Fitness

Exercise: Can a few minutes a day keep a hip fracture away?

October 12, 2017


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Deborah K. Lynn
October 27, 2017

What about a woman who already has been diagnosed with advanced Osteoporosis (-4.0 spine, hip, 65 years old), what is the best exercise?
I am very active, but also very insecure about the best way to workout for fear of hurting myself.

Nandini Mani, MD
October 30, 2017

Deborah, You are right to observe that this particular study does not apply to your specific situation. In your case the best exercise is one that is a) weight bearing (e.g. not swimming or stationary biking – you need your body weight) and b) where you feel secure in your balance that you won’t fall. This could be jumping gently on a trampoline with a hand-rail to hold onto, walking, jogging on flat/even ground, weight lifting, yoga, tai-chi! Hope that helps.

October 27, 2017

I take it the study did not apply to women who already had osteoporosis. Can exercise strengthen bones in women who already have osteoporsis.

Nandini Mani, MD
October 30, 2017

Sharon – yes, and yes, although depending on your age and/or other medical conditions, you may have osteoporosis that is more advanced. Weight bearing exercise will help, but it will likely not be protective enough alone. You may need to combine exercise with medication or other treatments. Please see my answer to Deborah for more info. Good luck!

Janet Rowley NZ Dip Phys, MHSc
October 18, 2017

Great news, but does it have to be high impact? Presumably this is because you get a greater force than body weight down through the bones, but a significant number of women at this age will have – or be at risk of, stress incontinence and so would be advised to avoid high impact exercise. I would be keen to know low impact ( ie one leg weight bearing on the ground at any given time) options.

Nandini Mani, MD
October 30, 2017

Hi Janet, you will get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, with high impact, weight bearing exercise, but any weight bearing exercise will help. You are right that stress incontinence is often an issue for many women. In this case, see if you can find the lowest impact exercise you can. However, another major observation of this study was the limited amount of time you really need to be doing high-impact. So, some women may find they can empty their bladder fully, then jog for a few minutes (high impact) and then ratchet down the activity level before the bladder fills up again.

Nandini Mani, MD
October 17, 2017

A great alternative is jumping on a small trampoline for a few minutes a day. This is actually quite easy on the joints, but still provides the right kind of forces on the hip to help with bone and joint health. If you try this, be sure it is a small trampoline with a safety bar so you can remain safe!

October 17, 2017

You article is encouraging to women/men who can do intense activities, but if a person can’t run or jog, then what is the alternative? I understand that brisk walking for more minutes can benefit and strengthen the bone, I my right? if not, what it is?

Thank you.

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