Osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to thin, is associated with 1.2 million bone fractures each year. Ouch! People with MS may be at greater risk for osteoporosis than the general population due to steroids for MS attacks and decreased activity. That includes men. Studies have shown that the risk of thinning bones is nearly equal between men and women diagnosed with MS.
But there is good news, too
You CAN reduce your risk for osteoporosis and build healthier bones. The recipe:
Resistance activities (also known as strength training)
Bear your weight!
In weight-bearing activities, your feet or legs support your body weight. Walking, stair climbing and dancing are all great ways to do this. But with MS in the picture, these activities may be unsafe or too fatiguing. A regular standing program may be useful instead. If standing is difficult, a standing frame that provides support and still permits you to bear weight on your legs and feet can be the answer.
Some activities that increase flexibility include range-of-motion exercises, stretching and yoga. Keeping muscles and other connective tissue limber decreases the risk of injury.
Resistance activities include using free weights or weight machines, stretching against resistive tubing or bands, any exercise in water, and using resistance applied by one’s hands or by another person.
Ideally, resistance activities should be done two to three times per week. And they should focus on many different muscle groups. You can decide with a health care provider the number of repetitions and amount of resistance to use. It depends on your starting place.
More bang for your buck
Some exercises can combine more than one activity. Walking can combine weight-bearing and some resistance training. Pilates and yoga can combine flexibility and weight-bearing, and even occasionally resistance. Water exercises can combine resistance and flexibility. Talk to your care provider about other things you can do that mix the three types of activity together.
Enjoy your program and you CAN enjoy building your healthier bones!
Contributing editor: Patricia Kennedy, RN, CNP, MSCN, Nurse Educator and Programs Advisor, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis