What Type of Exercise is Right for Osteoporosis?

We are asked frequently after a diagnosis of osteoporosis, what is the best way to ‘bone up’ – maintaining the bone structure present and strengthening the body to prevent future loss? First, let’s start with what osteoporosis disease is.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Being diagnosed with osteoporosis can cause feelings of being overwhelmed or scared.

What do we know about osteoporosis?

There are over 50 million Americans who suffer from low bone density or osteoporosis. It is estimated that 1 in 2 women will experience osteoporosis in their lifetime. You may be someone who has developed osteoporosis and may be unsure if you should exercise- and if you do want to exercise, what do you do? Before starting a new workout routine, always talk to your doctor or physical therapist as they will be able to tell you what is appropriate for you considering your age, activity level, and stage of osteoporosis. Arming yourself with knowledge and a team of providers who can help you continue to enjoy all the things you do is important.

Let’s break down different forms of exercise to help make exercising safe and beneficial to you and your body.

Weight-bearing exercises

High Impact vs. Low Impact activities

Although it is beneficial to perform weight-bearing activities to help build and preserve bone density, be very cautious about performing high-impact activities (e.g. jogging/running, jumping, tennis) as they often put you at a higher risk for fracturing/breaking a bone. Again, for in this type of activity, it will be important to consult a healthcare professional as they will be able to determine if these activities are appropriate for you with your stage of osteoporosis.

Performing low-impact activities (e.g. walking, swimming, elliptical) and activities with slow, controlled movements may be recommended as a safer alternative. If you are someone who has not been consistently exercising or if you are new to one of the recommended forms of activity, be sure to begin slowly. Make sure you will be safe and feel comfortable and gradually increase your workload.

Exercises to Avoid for individuals with Osteoporosis:

Exercises/activities involving excessive forward bending or twisting (e.g. sit-ups, touching your toes, golf, bowling, certain yoga poses) should be avoided as these movements increase the risk for fractures due to compression in the spine. Additionally, explosive high impact loading is something that is oftentimes avoided for individuals with osteoporosis.
As always, there is no one-size-fits-all for exercise. The safest and best way to determine what type of exercise is right for you is to consult with your physical therapist. They can help guide you to finding a safe and appropriate exercise program that will work for you.
Schedule your appointment today with a Freedom PT specialized in Osteoporosis

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.