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Women and Weight Training for Osteoporosis

Strength training can help prevent bone loss.

Getting Started on Weight Training for Osteoporosis continued...

If you already have osteoporosis, seek out a personal trainer experienced in working with people who have osteoporosis. You may have to find one, like Lein, at a medical center with an osteoporosis program.

Also, be sure to take these two precautions:

  • If you have osteoporosis in your spine, don't lift more than 20 to 25 pounds with your arms or against your trunk, and avoid movements that have you twisting your trunk or bending forward extensively. (Bending back is fine, says Lein.)
  • If you have osteoporosis in the hips, there is no specific restriction on the amount of weight lifted or types of movement. But people with osteoporosis in any area should ensure that their activities don't increase the risk of falling.

You may not see the results on a bone density test immediately, cautions Felicia Cosman, MD, medical director of the Clinical Research Center at Helen Hayes Hospital in Haverstraw, N.Y., a spokeswoman for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Time and time again, I'll recommend weight training to patients and they come back expecting to see big changes in bone density in a year or two."

"That's not realistic. You're helping to prevent bone loss, and the changes may be relatively small per year," she says. "But if you persist with your weight training, even a 1% change in bone density every year adds up to a 10% difference after ten years. … That's a lot of bone."

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Reviewed on January 21, 2009
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Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

How do you exercise for strong bones?