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Outsmart osteoporosis with exercise

Osteoporosis, the condition characterized by weak and fragile bones, is responsible for more than one and a half million bone fractures each year—many resulting from falls.

If you suffer from osteoporosis, you’ll want strong muscles to maintain balance and prevent falls. Exercise can be an important component in treating your condition. But you need to take certain precautions to avoid doing more harm than good. For instance, you’ll want to avoid any exercises that force you to bend forward or round out your spine, such as sit-ups and toe touches, and any routines that involve twisting and turning.

Talk with your physician or a physical therapist who specializes in osteoporosis before beginning an exercise program. He or she will likely recommend a program that considers your degree of bone loss and combines several types of safe exercises, such as:

  • Resistance training. Lifting weights or using resistance bands can help strengthen your muscles and your bones. Start with very light weights or with no weights at all as recommended by your doctor. Pay special attention to your form while working out.
  • Weight-bearing exercises. Walking, water aerobics, tai chi—all are good ways to improve your bone strength, as well as your overall health. Engage in low-impact activities to avoid placing stress on the joints and bones. Avoid jumping or jarring movements.
  • Balance exercises. These exercises will improve your stability and coordination, making you less likely to take a nasty spill and break a bone.
  • Back exercises. Specific back exercises will help strengthen and support your spine while improving your posture.