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    Exercise for Osteoporosis

    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD

    One of the best ways to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis is by getting regular exercise. Even if you already have osteoporosis, exercising can help maintain the bone mass you have.

    The Reason for Exercise for Osteoporosis

    Why do health experts recommend exercise for osteoporosis? When you exercise, you don't just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones. You may hear health professionals call this “bone mass and density.”

    Three types of exercise for osteoporosis are:

    • Weight-bearing
    • Resistance
    • Flexibility

    All three types of exercise for osteoporosis are needed to build healthy bones.

    Weight-bearing Exercise for Osteoporosis

    Weight-bearing means your feet and legs support your body’s weight. A few examples of weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis are:

    - Walking

    - Hiking

    - Dancing

    - Stair climbing

    Sports like bicycling and swimming are great for your heart and lungs. However, these are not weight-bearing exercise for osteoporosis. That’s because you are being held up by something other than your feet and legs, such as the bicycle or the water.

    Walking as little as three to five miles a week can help build your bone health. For general health, most experts recommend that everyone get at least half an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise five times a week. Forty-five minutes to an hour is even better.

    Resistance Exercise for Osteoporosis

    Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object.Resistance helps with osteoporosis because it strengthens muscle and builds bone. Studies have shown that resistance exercise increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.

    Resistance exercise for osteoporosis includes:

    • Free weights or weight machines at home or in the gym
    • Resistance tubing that comes in a variety of strengths
    • Water exercises -- any movement done in the water makes your muscles work harder.

    You can find instructions for safe exercises online. Once source is the CDC Another source is the National Institute on Aging (

    For best results, do resistance exercises two or three times a week. Make the exercise more challenging by gradually adding weight or repetitions. Work all your different muscles -- including arms, chest, shoulders, legs, stomach, and back. Be sure not to do resistance training on the same muscle group two days in a row. Give each muscle group time to recover.

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