(Health Secrets) Older people and those with conditions affecting their bones or other orthopedic disorders often believe that exercise is unsafe. However, exercise is known to reduce symptoms and even reverse some musculoskeletal issues. Older adults and people with frail bones caused by osteoporosis or aging-related loss of bone density can follow general exercise guidelines as laid out by the Centers for Disease Control, Prevention, and the American College of Sports Medicine with some modifications.
Exercising with orthopedic disorders
People with orthopedic disorders like arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and joint pain can benefit from engaging in low-impact physical activity. Riding a bike is one of the lowest impact activities people can do, though exercising in water puts the least amount of stress on joints.
Two to three days a week of weight training with three to 10 repetitions per exercise is usually ideal. Isometric exercises are recommended. Three to five days of aerobic training for five to 30 minutes is plenty. Daily stretching can relieve stiffness. Starting slow and giving oneself extra time to adapt to exercise before increasing intensity or time is crucial for many people with orthopedic disorders, particularly those with arthritic disorders.
In addition to these guidelines, people need to do balance exercises three days or more each week. The single-leg balance, where one puts their hands on their hips and stands on one leg, is an example of a balance exercise.
Exercising with osteoporosis or osteopenia
Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training should be the main focus for someone with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Osteopenia is the precursor to osteoporosis, but
exercise can help prevent the loss of bone density that leads to osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises are activities like walking and other aerobic activities that put weight on the joints. High-impact exercises are definitely to be avoided though.
Some people with advanced osteoporosis may not be able to do weight-bearing activities. Swimming, and water walking are good activities to start with in an exercise program. A person may be able to improve bone density with light weight training and very low-impact aerobic exercise, and then proceed to using an exercise bike or walking on a treadmill. Twenty to 30 minutes of aerobic activity three to five days per week is recommended. Two to three weight workouts with eight to 10 reps per exercise is sufficient.
Exercise guidelines for elderly adults
Some older adults have frail bones and worry that working out is just too risky. Elderly adults, even frail adults, do not need to cease exercising despite an increased risk of falls and fractures. Exercising should be done with precautions, though. Weight machines are safer for frail adults to use because there is no chance of falling or dropping weights. Older adults often excel with two to three weight lifting workouts per week, but should have at least one day in between to rest. A repetition range of eight to 15 is sufficient.
To ensure that they do not overdo it, elderly adults should limit aerobics workouts to an hour at most and stick to a moderate intensity. Frail adults should keep cardio to 30 minutes maximum. Water activities are easiest on the joints, but some weight-bearing exercise like walking should be used when tolerated.
These general recommendations are not meant to be a prescription. Older adults should not begin an exercise program without receiving clearance from their doctor. Ease into exercise, perhaps beginning with five minutes of aerobics and a single set of weight training, then gradually increasing.
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