Looking for input on best training options to build up bone density to prevent future hip and slow future spinal fractures. I have a post menopausal women in her mid 60s with kyphosis who was on Fosamax but stopped taking several years ago on her own due to side effect concerns. I am going to require her to get physician’s clearance. But looking for input from anyone with hands on experience with this population.
Most research shows that it is very hard to build up bone density without drugs (at least after someone reaches his or her late 20’s). Weight training can help reduce bone loss, but do not look to it to increase much bone mass. Martin is right that stress to the bones (weight training and impact exercises in particular) are needed to help bone remodel, but they can be very tricky with osteoporosis. Usually squats, twisting and any type of spinal flexion, as well as high impact exercises are all contraindicated, so you do need to discuss it with her physician. Some sources recommend walking with a weighted vest as a good way to stress the bones with less impact, but other sources nix the vest. Swimming and walking are generally well tolerated, but they do little to help bone density. Once you have clearance I would focus on strength training exercises that do not involve spinal flexion, trying to gradually increase the weight. Machines (sorry pure functional people) such as the leg press and leg extension may be helpful. I would also focus on balance and core work (planks and bridges and warding moves that do not use spinal flexion). One other caveat; even though you are consulting her physician I have found many who seem clueless about osteoporosis and exercise; they give their clients a blanket response to “exercise” and do not seem aware of the contraindications. If you adhere to the strict guidelines (and I have clients who do not, but that is their choice) that means golf and tennis are out if the osteoporosis is in the spine, many doctors seem unaware of this.