Osteopenia means low bone density. If you have osteopenia, you may be at risk for developing osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones more porous and thus weaker. Take steps to increase your bone density, or at least decrease the rate of bone loss, in order to prevent or delay osteoporosis. Along with other treatments, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends performing weight-bearing and resistance exercises if you have osteopenia. Hip joint exercises are especially important because you use your hips so often on a daily basis.
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Walking is a low-intensity exercise that may help prevent bone loss in your hips because they have to help support the weight of your torso while moving repeatedly through the extension and flexion ranges of motion. If the weather is not conducive to walking outside, walk indoors on a treadmill, either at home or at a fitness facility, or walk in an indoor shopping mall. Start walking for short periods of time and gradually increase to 30 minutes or more every day.
The hip kicks exercise strengthens the hip joint through several different ranges of motion, including abduction, adduction and extension. Stand with your feet 1 to 2 feet away from the base of a wall and place your hands against the wall for balance. Abduct your left hip, lifting your leg sideways away from your body, until you feel tension in your inner thigh. Return to the starting position, and then extend your leg backward as far as possible. Move back to the starting position again, and then cross your left leg in front of your right until you feel a light stretch through the left side of your buttocks. Keep your toes pointed forward throughout the movements. Repeat the cycle eight times, and then switch legs.
The wall slide exercise strengthens the buttocks and hamstrings, which contract to extend your hip joints. Stand facing away from a wall with your feet about shoulder-width apart and heels about a foot away from the base of the wall. Lean back and position your buttocks, palms and shoulder blades against the wall. Squat down, sliding your back and palms against the wall, until your thighs form a 45 degree angle with the floor. Extend your legs to stand back up and repeat. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends performing the exercise two to three times per week for 10 repetitions each.
Once you can perform the wall slide exercise easily, body-weight squats are a logical progression. Start by performing the exercise with a partner. Stand upright, facing your partner, and extend your arms toward her shoulders as she does the same. Grasp each other's forearms firmly. When ready, squat down at the same time as your partner until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then stand back up simultaneously and repeat. Keep your spine straight throughout the movement.
When you feel ready, perform body-weight squats by yourself. Follow the same procedure, but hold your hands at your sides. Have your partner stand nearby in case you lose your balance.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: Osteopenia
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: Exercise for Healthy Bones
- Osteopenia: Osteopenia Exercise Can Be Done at Home
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: Exercise Examples
- American Council on Exercise: Partner Assisted Bodyweight Squats
- American Council on Exercise: Bodyweight Squat
- American Council on Exercise: Butt and Hip Exercises