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Does Swimming Help or Hinder Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease where bones weaken and lose density, which causes an increased risk of fractures and breaks. All though osteoporosis can impact anyone, women are at the highest risk for this condition. Older women, especially those who are in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause, are also at a higher risk.

However, osteoporosis does not have to be inevitable. There are steps a woman can take to strengthen her bones and therefore lower her risk of experiencing a painful break or fracture. One workout that is frequently suggested to older women is swimming; however, because swimming is a low-impact exercise, it does not really lower a woman's risk for osteoporosis.

Does Swimming Help or Hinder Osteoporosis?

Is Swimming a Good Workout to Treat Osteoporosis?

When it comes to finding the right exercises to combat osteoporosis, it is important to choose workouts that combine strength-training exercises with weight-bearing exercises. Strength-training workouts include lifting weights, crunches, and push-ups. These exercises help to build muscles and improve bone strength.

Weight-bearing exercises include walking, hiking, running, skiing, skipping rope, and many team sports such as basketball and soccer. Weight-bearing exercises can also lessen the impacts of osteoporosis if you have it, or lower your risk of getting it if you don't.

Swimming is neither a weight-bearing exercise nor a strength-training exercise. This means that if you are trying to prevent or fight osteoporosis, swimming should not be the only workout that you do. Swimming and other activities such as bicycling and elliptical machines are low-impact, which means they are easy on the muscles and joints.

What Is the Best High Impact Exercise for Strengthening Bones?

You should choose a high-impact workout that fits your exercise needs and personality. If you like to work out with other people, choose a group sport such as tennis or ultimate frisbee. If you prefer your workout time to be solo, try jogging or speed-walking. You can also try taking a Zumba class, going for a hike, or golfing with a friend or partner.

Recommendations

Exercise, along with a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, can help reduce the likelihood of getting osteoporosis or fight against the condition if you do have it. Calcium is found in dairy products, dark leafy green veggies, tofu and other soy products, and any products that are fortified with calcium, such as breakfast cereals and orange juice. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, and people usually get vitamin D through sunlight, but if you live in a place that is not very sunny, supplements are available.

If you are concerned that you have osteoporosis, it is important to talk to your doctor. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned or have reservations about what types of exercises you are able to do. Your doctor can help you find a workout plan that is good for you and will help fight osteoporosis. Click on the following link for more information about different treatments for osteoporosis.

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Sources:
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Osteoporosis. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/basics/definition/con-20019924
  • National Health Service UK. (2014). Osteoporosis. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoporosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx