- Bone health: Tips to keep your bones healthy
- Exercising with osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way
- Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance
- Fall prevention: 6 tips to prevent falls
Risk factors (1)
- Symptom Checker
Tests and diagnosis (1)
- Bone density test
Treatments and drugs (2)
- Osteoporosis treatment: Medications can help
- Options for osteoporosis therapy
Exercising with osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way
Choosing the right form of exercise
These types of activities are often recommended for people with osteoporosis:
- Strength training exercises, especially those for the back
- Weight-bearing aerobic activities
- Flexibility exercises
- Stability and balance exercises
Because of the varying degrees of osteoporosis and the risk of fracture, certain exercises may be discouraged. Ask your doctor or physical therapist whether you're at risk of osteoporosis-related problems, and find out what exercises are appropriate for you.
Strength training includes the use of free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or water exercises to strengthen the muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine. Strength training can also work directly on your bones to slow mineral loss.
Osteoporosis can cause compression fractures in your spinal column. These fractures often lead to a stooped posture, increasing the pressure along the front of your spinal column, and result in even more compression fractures. Exercises that gently stretch your upper back, strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades and improve your posture can all help to reduce harmful stress on your bones and maintain bone density.
Weight-bearing aerobic activities
Weight-bearing aerobic activities involve doing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical training machines, stair climbing and gardening. These types of exercise work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss. They can also provide cardiovascular benefits, which boost heart and circulatory system health.
Swimming and water aerobics have many benefits, but they don't have the impact your bones need to slow mineral loss. However, these activities can be useful in cases of extreme osteoporosis, during rehabilitation following a fracture or for increasing aerobic capacity.
Being able to move your joints through their full range of motion helps you maintain good balance and prevent muscle injury. Increased flexibility can also help improve your posture. When your joints are stiff, your abdominal and chest muscles become tight, pulling you forward and giving you a stooped posture.
Stretches are best performed after your muscles are warmed up — at the end of your exercise session, for example. They should be done gently and slowly, without bouncing. Avoid stretches that flex your spine or cause you to bend at the waist. These positions may put excessive stress on the bones in your spine (vertebrae), placing you at greater risk of a compression fracture. Ask your doctor which stretching exercises would be best for you.
Stability and balance exercises
Fall prevention is important for people who have osteoporosis. Stability and balance exercises help your muscles work together in a way that helps keep you more stable and less likely to fall. Simple exercises such as standing on one leg or movement-based exercises such as tai chi can improve your stability and balance.
Movements to avoid
If you have osteoporosis, don't do the following types of exercises:
- High-impact exercises, such as jumping, running or jogging. These activities increase compression in your spine and lower extremities and can lead to fractures in weakened bones. Avoid jerky, rapid movements in general. Choose exercises with slow, controlled movements.
- Exercises in which you bend forward and twist your waist, such as touching your toes or doing sit-ups. These movements put pressure on the bones in your spine, increasing your risk of compression fractures. Other activities that may require you to bend or twist forcefully at the waist are golf, tennis, bowling and some yoga poses.
If you're not sure how healthy your bones are, talk to your doctor. Don't let fear of fractures keep you from having fun and being active.Previous page
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- Guadalupe-Grau A, et al. Exercise and bone mass in adults. Sports Medicine. 2009;39:439.
- Osteoporosis: Frequently asked questions. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/osteoporosis.cfm. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.
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- Lindsay R, et al. Osteoporosis. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=2903484. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.
- Prevention: Exercise for healthy bones. National Osteoporosis Foundation. http://www.nof.org/prevention/exercise.htm. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.
- Bone basics: Moving safely. National Osteoporosis Foundation. http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/Guidelines_for_Safe_Movement.pdf. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.
- Exercise for your bone health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Exercise/default.asp. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.