Exercises to help older adults maintain healthy bones

More than 30% of Canadian women aged 71 and older have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, compared to 6.4% of men, according to Statistics Canada. Women are more at risk of developing osteoporosis than men because they start with lower bone density and lose bone mass more quickly as they age, says the Public Health Agency of Canada.

At least one in three Canadian women will suffer a broken bone from osteoporosis during their lifetime and up to 90% of hip fractures are caused by osteoporosis, according to Osteoporosis Canada. The most common places for fractures to occur are the wrists, shoulders, spine and hips.

Weight-bearing exercise helps prevent bone loss

Fortunately, in older women and men, regular weight-bearing activities such as walking, dancing and climbing stairs help to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, says Osteoporosis Canada.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it, the University of Waterloo and a team of international experts recommend combining muscle strengthening and balance exercises to prevent bone loss, falls and fractures.

Too fit to fracture

Senior StretchingWhat specific types of exercise should older adults do to improve bone strength and help prevent falls and fractures?

In 2014, Osteoporosis Canada, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and the University of Waterloo introduced “Too Fit to Fracture: Managing Osteoporosis through Exercise,” an innovative, research-based program and resources that include a video series and online booklets to guide you.

These experts recommend four types of exercise for all people with osteoporosis:

-Strength training, such as wall push-ups and sash exercises with an exercise band, at least two times per week

-Posture exercises, like simple yoga poses that can even be completed in a chair, every day

-Balance exercises, like tai chi, every day

-Aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking or dancing, that’s weight-bearing for 150 minutes a week

You can learn more about a variety of exercises in each category through clear, illustrated examples in the Too Fit to Fracture booklet. It’s also recommended you talk with your doctor, or a recreation activity professional, for guidance on safe exercises if you already have osteoporosis.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers a wide range of physical activities that can improve endurance, build muscle and bone strength, and enhance balance to prevent falls. Walking clubs, yoga, line dancing, tai chi and gardening are just a few examples of enjoyable activities that we offer our residents to help them maintain a healthy mind and body. To learn more about our LiveNow programming, or to download a sample activity calendar, click here.