Should I Exercise with Osteoporosis?

A diagnosis of osteoporosis can at times be frightening and full of unknowns. Should I continue my regular exercise? Do I exercise at all with osteoporosis? If so, which exercises should I do? Exercising with osteoporosis can be even more nerve-racking. Here is what our therapist recommends to those wishing to exercise with osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D. The leading cause of osteoporosis is a lack of certain hormones, particularly estrogen in women and androgen in men. Women, especially those older than 60 years of age, are frequently diagnosed with the disease. Menopause is accompanied by lower estrogen levels and increases a woman’s risk for osteoporosis.

Bone density scanning is the benchmark technique used to diagnose osteoporosis and assess the risk of suffering a fracture. The result is your T score. A T score of -1 to +1 is considered normal bone density. A T score of -1 to -2.5 indicates osteopenia (low bone density). A T score of -2.5 or lower is bone density low enough to be categorized as osteoporosis.

What exercise should I do? 

It is true that throughout the years, there have been several proposed exercise recommendations for individuals with osteoporosis. Although there have been some variations in the type of exercise that is considered the best, one thing is certain throughout – any exercise in regards to osteoporosis is extremely beneficial. Research has shown conclusively that certain forms of exercise promote increased bone mineral density (BMD) in different parts of the body. This decreases the risk of injury as well as improves one’s stability, balance and strength. These are a few additional benefits to exercise when dealing with a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

 A study published in December 2018 entitled The effectiveness of physical exercise on bone density in osteoporotic patients performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of research done in regards to exercise and osteoporosis. A common form of exercise many people consider with osteoporosis is walking. It is important to note that there can be some mild improvements in BMD throughout the femur and lower extremity with walking, however, based on recent research walking in and of itself does not seem to demonstrate very significant improvements in regards to bone strength. Alternatively, a healthy combination of weight-bearing, progressive resistance, balance, and aerobic activities provide the best outcomes in regards to increasing BMD, decreasing fall and injury risk, and improving overall strength and stability. Additionally, it is important to note that high-impact activities in regards to osteoporosis should be performed at the discretion of your provider as it depends on multiple factors including bone density levels and previous injuries.

Movement is best

In conclusion, certain forms of exercise have been proven in research to be most beneficial in maintaining and improving BMD in individuals with osteoporosis. Regardless of the exercise, keeping your body moving is always better than being stationary. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and are looking for a custom-tailored exercise program to improve your strength, balance, stability, and decrease injury risk don’t wait, contact your physical therapist and get started today!

Schedule your appointment with a PT who specializes in Osteoporosis today!

Rachel graduated with honors from Concordia University Wisconsin in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology and in 2017 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. At Concordia, Rachel had the opportunity to take advanced coursework in manual therapy and sport specific training.