How to Stay Active when Living with Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a chronic condition in which the bones become brittle, weak and easily damaged or broken. It occurs due to decreased bone tissue mineralization and bone strength over time. Bone loss is caused by aging and women are affected earlier and to a greater extent than men. Osteoporosis increases risk of fracture. Exercise is the best way to increase bone mass and prevent fractures that can occur due the condition.

OsteoporosisWeight-Bearing Exercises: This includes activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright. These can be high-impact or low-impact exercises to strengthen muscles, improve balance, and enhance flexibility. If you have broken a bone due to osteoporosis or are at risk of breaking a bone, you may need to avoid high-impact exercises or check with your health professional before doing them. High-impact weight-bearing exercises include

  • Dancing
  • Aerobics
  • Hiking
  • Jogging/running
  • Jumping Rope
  • Stair climbing
  • Tennis

Low-impact weight-bearing exercises are a safe alternative also keep bones and muscles strong and are a safe alternative if you cannot do high-impact exercises. Examples of low-impact weight-bearing exercises are:

  • Using elliptical training machines
  • Doing low-impact aerobics
  • Using stair-step machines
  • Fast walking on a treadmill or outside

Muscle-strengthening Exercises: These are resistance exercises or activities where you move your body, a weight, or some other resistance against gravity. They include

  • Lifting weights and using weight machines. Start slow and gradually work up to heavier weights.
  • Using elastic exercise bands
  • Lifting your own body weight
  • Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes

Activities like yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are also good for osteoporosis patients as they improve strength, balance and flexibility. However, guidance is important as some positions in yoga or Pilates are not safe for them. Tai Chi requires no special equipment and can be done by individuals of all ages. The activity involves a sequence of smooth, patterned movements done along with breathing exercises.

If you have osteoporosis and want to do start an exercise plan, ask your physician for advice. This is important because not all exercises are suitable for all people. One should not put unnecessary pressure on bones that could lead to further problems.