As the body ages, bones can weaken. This can impact your ability to stand or walk, and put you more at risk for fractures. This is even more of a concern for people living with arthritis or osteoporosis.
One of the best ways to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis is by getting regular exercise. Even if you already have osteoporosis, exercising can help maintain the bone mass you have.
When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones, or bone mass density. Three types of exercise for osteoporosis are:
To build healthy bones, make sure to include all three types of exercise.
Weight Bearing. This includes activities such as walking/jogging, hiking, dancing, and stairclimbing.
Walking as little as 3 to 5 miles a week can help build your bone health. For general health, most experts recommend that you get at least half an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise 5 times a week, but 45 minutes to an hour is even better.
Resistance. Resistance exercise for osteoporosis includes: free weights or weight machines at home or in the gym, resistance tubing that comes in a variety of strengths, and water-resisted exercises.
For best results, do resistance exercises 2 or 3 times a week. Make the exercise more challenging by gradually adding weight or repetitions. Work all your different muscles, including arms, chest, shoulders, legs, stomach, and back. Be sure not to do resistance training on the same muscle group 2 days in a row. Give each muscle group time to recover.
Flexibility. Having flexible joints helps prevent injury. Examples of flexibility exercises for osteoporosis include regular stretches, tai chi and yoga.
To stay safe during exercise for osteoporosis, follow these guidelines:
- Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program. This is especially important if you know you have bone loss or osteoporosis.
- Weight-bearing exercise does not have to be high impact. Running, jogging and jumping may put stress on your spine. These high-impact activities may lead to fractures in weakened bones. If you already have bone loss, choose gentler weight-bearing exercise like walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, and gardening.
- If you already have osteoporosis, be careful of exercises that involve bending and twisting at the waist because this motion can put you at risk for fracture. Examples can include sit-ups, toe touches, and rowing machines, golf, tennis, and some yoga poses. Talk to your doctor before choosing any of these activities.