A weighted vest sounds like something that would weigh you down. However, this vest has the ability to build you up with strength, power and bone density. This is beneficial if you suffer from osteoporosis. Performing exercises while wearing a weighted vest may strengthen your bones and muscles to reduce your risk of falling, which is a concern if you suffer from osteoporosis.
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You strap a weighted vest to your body and it has 1/2- to 1-lb. weights, which you can add or remove. The vest is usually black, and slips on over your exercise clothes. Because the weight is added to the core of your body, you will not feel stress on the joints of your wrists or shoulders, as you would if you were holding dumbbells.
If you have osteoporosis, one of your goals is to improve or maintain bone density. A weighted vest combined with jumping exercises may help you do this. Oregon State University has had success with women improving their bone mineral density as a result of participating in the University's Better Bones and Balance program. This program begins with resistance exercises and, after three months, progresses to jumping exercises while wearing a weighted vest.
For the prevention of osteoporosis, "The Journals of Gerontology" in 2000, confirmed improved bone density when it reported on a five year study of women jumping while wearing a weighted vest. The women engaged in jumping exercises three times a week, eight months out of every year. Hip bone mineral density in these women was maintained throughout the five years.
Risk of Falling
Another concern when you have osteoporosis is reduced balance. Impaired balance may lead to a fall and, with weakened bones, a fall may lead to a bone break or fracture. Participating in exercises using a weighted vest may help to reduce falling incidents. Oregon State University uses jumping exercises in addition to wearing a weighted vest as a tool to promote dynamic balance stability in those suffering from osteoporosis.
In 1998, at The University of Utah, Janet M. Shaw and Christine M. Snow monitored women participating in a nine-month exercise program using a weighted vest. The results showed improvements in lower body stability, power and strength, all of which are important to maintaining balance and reducing the risk of falling.
In its Better Bones and Balance program, Oregon State University has participants begin with 12 weeks of pretend jumping exercises. This includes rising up onto the toes of the feet and landing with a slight bend in the knees. The university recommends three sets of 15 pretend jumps. After three months, a weighted vest may be used and real jumps added into the workout in a suggested routine of three sets of five jumps. The university suggests two or three days a week.
An exercise program to enhance the strength of bones before osteoporosis sets in includes functional exercises. These types of exercises consist of daily movements, such as repeatedly sitting in a chair and then standing, and you can do them while wearing a weighted vest. You can also wear your vest while climbing flights of stairs. To strengthen your lower legs, a calf raise is performed by rising up onto your toes and then lowering heels to the floor. IDEA Health and Fitness Association recommends performing three sets of eight to 10 repetitions of these exercises.
Before beginning any exercise program, speak with your doctor about the types that are best for you. When deciding on your beginning weight, choose a vest equal to 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. Have adequate, clear space in which to exercise. Wear supportive shoes to protect your feet and ankles during the exercises. Your muscles need a day of rest in between workouts to repair. If you have existing osteoporosis, always check with your doctor if the exercise program you intend to follow is suitable.