Skip to content

Osteoporosis Health Center

Select An Article

Osteoporosis Exercise

Font Size

At any age, exercise is essential for maintaining healthy bones. If you exercised regularly as a child and young adult, you probably helped maximize your bone production, most of which occurs by age 35. If you continued to exercise into middle age and beyond, you probably helped reduce your risk of developing the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.

Still, it's never too late to start a bone-healthy exercise program, even if you already have osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing osteoporosis.

Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and Bone Density Tests

Bone density tests (also called bone mineral density tests or bone scans) evaluate the strength of your bones by measuring a small part of one or a few bones. Knowing the strength of your bones can help your doctor recommend prevention steps and osteoporosismedication, if needed, to prevent bone loss and fractures.

Read the Osteoporosis and Bone Density Tests article > >

Although people with osteoporosis may believe that exercise increases the risk of injury from broken bones, the truth is quite the opposite. A regular, properly designed exercise program may actually help prevent the falls and fall-related fractures that so often result in disability and premature death. That's because exercise strengthens bones and muscles, and improves balance, coordination, and flexibility, which is especially important for older adults and people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the best exercises for building and maintaining bone density are:

  • Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, that makes you work against gravity while staying upright
  • Muscle-strengthening exercise, such as weight lifting, that makes you work against gravity in a standing, sitting, or prone position

Nonimpact activities such as balance, functional, and posture exercises also may benefit people with osteoporosis. Although these exercises don't build or maintain bone density, they may increase muscle strength and decrease the risk of falls and fractures.

Medical Evaluation Is Key

If you have osteoporosis or are at risk of osteoporosis, most experts believe that supervised weight-bearing exercise and strength training exercise is safe and effective. Studies of postmenopausal women report that aerobic, weight-bearing, and strength training exercise can increase bone mineral density in the spine, and that a simple walking program can increase bone mineral density in the spine and hip.

Before beginning any exercise program, it's important to undergo a thorough medical examination to determine which activities are safe for you.

There is no single exercise regimen that's best for everyone with osteoporosis. Each regimen should be specifically tailored to the individual patient based on a medical evaluation of:

  • Fracture risk
  • Muscle strength
  • Range of motion
  • Level of physical activity
  • Fitness
  • Gait
  • Balance

During the evaluation, your doctor also will consider any other chronic conditions that can affect your ability to exercise, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If you're at risk for osteoporotic fracture, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that your doctor refer you to a specially trained physical therapist for a through physical assessment and exercise prescriptions that focus on body mechanics and posture, balance, gait and transfer training, resistance weights, and progressive aerobic activities.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
 
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
 
Lactose Intolerance
Article
Woman holding plate of brocolli
Article
 
Dairy products
Tool
Superfood for Bones
Slideshow
 
Screening Tests for Women
Slideshow
exercise endometrial cancer
Article
 
hand holding medicine
Article
Working Out With Osteoporosis
Video