Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes bones to become brittle and likely to fracture and break. Because of this, patients may avoid physical activity in fear of injury. In actuality, performing certain types of exercises are not only safe for osteoporosis patients but encouraged as a means to keep bones and muscles strong and healthy.
The study took place in Australia among postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
Current guidelines for exercise in osteoporosis patients recommend moderate-intensity exercises, as heavy exercises may increase the risk of injury. But the latest findings suggest that patients may be able to perform high-intensity resistance and impact training (HiRIT).
Although the study shows some promise with HiRIT and osteoporosis, some experts are not quite convinced. D. Lee Alekel, director of the Osteoporosis and Metabolic Disorders of Bone Program explained, “Certainly, this study demonstrated some signal for bone that HiRIT may well make a difference, but this study was not rigorous enough (nor) had a sufficient number of participants to alter in any way the current guidelines.”
The researchers analyzed data from the larger Lifting Intervention for Training Muscle and Osteoporosis Rehabilitation (LIFTMOR) trial, which included 101 postmenopausal women. For eight months, half the women performed 30-minute sessions of supervised HiRIT twice weekly. The other half of participants completed 30-minute unsupervised low-intensity exercises at home twice weekly.
All participants underwent a bone mineral density test to determine any changes.
Senior study author Belinda Beck explained, “I was very pleasantly surprised by our novel and very positive outcomes. I had concerns that heavy loading might be hazardous to an osteoporotic spine, but it wasn’t.”
At the end of the study, the participants in the HiRIT group increased the bone mineral density in their spines by an average of three percent and bone density in their hips by 2.2 percent. These women also saw a 40 percent improvement in their back strength, which improves posture and reduces the risk of falls.
Because osteoporosis is such a risky disease and generally increases the risk of injury, it’s important that patients are properly supervised by a professional to reduce the risk of any fracture or injury. Exercises should be individualized based on a person’s needs.
Related: Osteoporosis: Causes, symptoms, diagnostic tests, and how to treat