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 \u2014 and they can heal themselves.\nBecause our bones respond to stress, we can strengthen them by making them work. This is especially important for people at risk for\u00a0osteoporosis, a condition that causes the body to lose minerals in the bones, weakening them over time.\nExercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, can stop bone loss, and prevent bone loss from happening in the first place.\nRisk Factors for Osteoporosis\nIf 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.\n\nBeing female\nSmoking\nHaving a low body weight (less than 127 pounds)\nBeing of Caucasian or Asian ancestry\nHaving a family history of osteoporosis\nLong-term treatment with glucocorticoids\nBeing of advanced age\n\nExercise, Bone Health, and Osteoporosis\nThe best exercises for preventing osteoporosis are ones that move your body against gravity. Think weightlifting, dancing, and high-impact aerobics.\nYou 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.\nWhat Can I Do If I Already Have Osteoporosis?\nIf you\u2019ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about how to include exercise in your lifestyle.\nYour 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.\nTo learn more about osteoporosis, make an appointment by calling\u00a01-800-533-UPMC (8762). Visit the website for the Osteoporosis and Bone Health Program at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.