3 Smart Ways to Exercise With Osteoporosis

3 Smart Ways to Exercise With Osteoporosis

Couch surfing is no way to keep your bones strong. Even if you have osteoporosis, being physically active has its advantages.

If you have osteoporosis, you may be tempted to take it easy on your bones. And in some ways, you should. But not by becoming a couch potato.

Staying physically active and exercising is more important than ever, because strong muscles can help support your bones. Being fit and flexible can also help reduce your risk of falls—something all people with osteoporosis should consider.

Still, when you exercise, you have to be safe and smart about it.

All the right moves
So what kind of exercise is best for bones? That's a question you should pose first to your healthcare provider (HCP). He or she may want to devise a physical activity program specifically for you—one that is gentle on your frame, strengthens your body and improves your balance.

Your exercise program will probably include a variety of activities, including the following.

Walking: A brisk walk on the treadmill or a flat surface outside, a little elliptical training, some swimming or biking—these are all forms of exercise that build a good fitness foundation by improving your cardiovascular conditioning. About 30 minutes a day on most days of the week is a solid goal. Stamina-building exercises help tone your muscles and increase balance and coordination, all of which are good news for your bones.

Elastic-band training: Strength-training exercises, such as working out with elastic bands, using weight machines, climbing stairs or walking uphill, all involve one thing: resistance. And that resistance is good for your bones because it protects against muscle loss, a common problem as we get older. Resistance exercises also reduce the risk of falls, and the stress that resistance exercises place on bones helps preserve bone mass. General recommendations are to strength train two or threes times weekly, but follow your HCP's advice.

Tai chi: Balance exercises such as tai chi will give your nerves, muscles and reflexes a tune-up, so you're less likely to fall and hurt yourself. Yoga and stretching exercises can help with this, too, and they'll also increase your flexibility.

Safety first
Your HCP may want you to avoid high-impact exercise if you have osteoporosis. And regardless of the activities you choose, doing them safely and with the proper protective gear is essential. Follow your HCP's guidance on what kinds of exercises you can do, what activity level is best, and how you can exercise safely.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

Get Kids Moving for Bone Health
Get Kids Moving for Bone Health
Millions of vegetable-avoiding, youthful, 60- to 125-pound children and teens are glued to digital screens and TVs, as their young skeletons fail to b...
Read More
How common is osteoporosis in men?
David Slovik, MDDavid Slovik, MD
Osteoporosis is often thought of as a women's disease. While osteoporosis does affect more women...
More Answers
5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked
5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked5 Common Osteoporosis Myths, Debunked
Get the facts and learn how to protect your bone health.
Start Slideshow
Are You at Risk for Broken Bones?
Are You at Risk for Broken Bones?