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Bone-building Exercise Tips for Osteoporosis

Peer Reviewed

Regular physical activity from your teenage years onwards will help reduce your risk of osteoporosis in midlife and beyond.

If you do not exercise regularly, the following tips will help you to begin an exercise program that will be realistic and beneficial. And remember, a regular exercise program can be fun especially when it is filled with activities you enjoy.

General Tips for Bone-Building Exercise Programs

  • Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your current routine. This word of advice is most important if you have or are at risk for osteoporosis.
  • Choose physical activities that include weight-bearing and resistance exercises. These activities are especially helpful to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Also, include exercises that promote balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength.

    Weight-bearing exercise uses bone and muscle to work against gravity and include:
    • Bowling
    • Skating
    • Skiing
    • Dancing
    • Stair climbing
    • Walking, jogging

    Resistance exercise uses your muscular strength to build bone mass and include:

    • Chin-ups, push-ups, sit-ups
    • Elastic band exercises (also called resistance tubing)
    • Free weights
    • Weight machines
    • Pilates

    Exercises that promote balance, coordination, and flexibility include:

    • Dancing
    • Stretching
    • Tai Chi
    • Yoga
    • Pilates
       
  • Start slowly; progress gradually; keep your goals sensible
  • Exercise regularly. Three short sessions (e.g., 15 minutes) is better than one long session (e.g., 45 minutes).
  • Always follow the exercise program prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist. Exercise is good, but you don?t want to increase your risk for a spinal (or other bone) fracture!
  • Some movements and exercises can injure your spine. These include:
    • Activities that put you at risk for a fall
    • Heavy lifting
    • High impact movement
    • Jumping
    • Stomach crunches or curls
    • Strenuous twisting sideways, backwards or forwards
    • Sudden movement
  • If you are becoming less steady on your feet, ask your doctor to recommend a fall prevention class. One brief class can help you avoid many nasty falls for years to come.

Talk to Your Doctor about Exercise
It is important to choose activities that you enjoy. Few people stick with an exercise program for long if they don?t like it! The lists below will help you see how easy it is build enjoyable activities into your daily life.

Beginners...Start Here:

  • Bowling
  • Climbing stairs (don't take the elevator!)
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • House cleaning
  • Light weight training (with supervision)
  • Tai Chi
  • Walking (choose even surfaces, such as a treadmill)
  • Yoga
  • Pilates 

Intermediate...Start Here:

  • Aerobics
  • Basketball
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Walking (with weighted vest)
  • Weight training

Advanced...Start Here:

  • Backpacking and hiking
  • High impact aerobics
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Soccer

 

Updated on: 01/14/10
Isador H. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FRCSC
This article was reviewed by Isador H. Lieberman, MD.
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