exercise and osteoporosis

We tend to think of bones as hard, immovable, inert objects. But the truth is, our bones are very much alive. They help produce our red blood cells. They grow and change in response to stress — and they can heal themselves.

Because our bones respond to stress, we can strengthen them by making them work. This is especially important for people at risk for osteoporosis, a condition that causes the body to lose minerals in the bones, weakening them over time.

Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, can stop bone loss, and prevent bone loss from happening in the first place.

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Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

If you have any of these osteoporosis risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about developing an exercise routine. Regular exercise can increase the density of bones, and reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • Being female
  • Smoking
  • Having a low body weight (less than 127 pounds)
  • Being of Caucasian or Asian ancestry
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Long-term treatment with glucocorticoids
  • Being of advanced age

Exercise, Bone Health, and Osteoporosis

The best exercises for preventing osteoporosis are ones that move your body against gravity. Think weightlifting, dancing, and high-impact aerobics.

You should only take on these activities if you do not already have osteoporosis and are healthy enough to participate. Low-impact activities are also a great way to stay active while minimizing the wear and tear on your bones. Try walking or using an elliptical machine. Elastic bands and hand weights can help build muscle strength while minimizing your risk of falls and fractures.

What Can I Do If I Already Have Osteoporosis?

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about how to include exercise in your lifestyle.

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist, who can help strengthen your upper back, develop your balance, and teach you ways to avoid injury. Because your bones are more susceptible to fracture, you will need to be careful while performing high-impact exercises.

To learn more about osteoporosis, make an appointment by calling 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Visit the website for the Osteoporosis and Bone Health Program at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

About UPMC Magee-Womens

Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.

Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.