Osteoporosis and osteopenia affect up to 35.5 million women in the United States, with numbers likely to grow with our aging population. Women who have had breast cancer treatment may be at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture. Estrogen has a protective effect on bone, and reduced levels of the hormone trigger bone loss. Because of treatment medications or surgery, many breast cancer survivors experience a loss of ovarian function and, consequently, reduced estrogen levels.
The benefits of engaging in weight bearing exercises on a mat (like yoga) include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety, and better gait. Improved posture directly addresses spinal fractures, while all these documented benefits of yoga reduce the risk of falling, which is the main cause of all other osteoporotic fractures. A 2016 article published in the Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation titled “Twelve- Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss” evaluated the effectiveness of selected yoga postures in raising bone mineral density (BMD). The study was conducted over a 10-year time frame and consisted of 741 internet-recruited volunteers comparing pre-yoga BMD changes with post-yoga BMD changes. Bone mineral density improved in spine, hips, and femur of the 227 moderately and fully compliant patients. Study participants completed a 12-minute DVD of 12 yoga poses that were designed to stimulate increased BMD in the lumbar vertebrae, the hip, and the femoral neck. Monthly gain in BMD was found to be significant in spine and femur, suggesting the 12 selected yoga poses studied here appear to be a safe and effective means to reverse bone loss in the spine and the femur.
Lu, Y. H., Rosner, B., Chang, G., & Fishman, L. M. (2016). “Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss.” Topics in geriatric rehabilitation, 32(2), 81–87. doi:10.1097/TGR.0000000000000085.
For more information and to see the 12 Yoga poses: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851231/