What Exercise is Best for Osteoporosis?

True North Wellness

One of the most effective lifestyle strategies to reduce losses in bone mineral density is physical activity and exercise [3]. Having a direct impact on bone properties means that exercise can not only play a role in prevention, but it can improve quality of life for those with osteoporosis and slow the progression of the disease [3]. Current evidence suggests that the impact of exercise on bone is dependent on modality, dose and intensity [2].

Exercise is Osteogenic
This means that exercise can directly influence bone development. Bone responds to mechanical loading, and therefore loading bone specifically has the ability to stimulate bone development. [1,2,3]

3 Types of exercise for Osteoporosis
Our bones respond best to impact, therefore exercises involving jumping, landing, or stomping are best to induce a skeletal response [1,2,3]. These can be tailored to each individual and intensity is dependent upon the individual’s current bone mass, fracture risk and exercise tolerance [2,3]. It has been found that relatively few impacts are required (10-50 per day may stimulate a response), however more frequent exposure can increase the benefit [2].
Resistance training can strengthen the muscles that protect the bones at risk of fracture and assist with balance recovery, and are a moderately osteogenic activity [2]. The greatest benefit to the spine and hip bones is achieved when the large muscles crossing the hip and spine are targeted, when load is high and progressively increased over time [2]. Relatively few repetitions are needed to elicit a response in the bone if the load is high enough [2].
Balance training is important for osteoporosis, as these individuals are typically at an increased risk of falls and fracture [2,3]. Balance exercise can reduce the risk of falls, and consequently the risk of fracture [1,2,3].

Tamika Hassum – Exercise Physiologist

1] Exercise Is Medicine Australia 2014, Osteoporosis Factsheet. www.exerciseismedicine.org.au
[2] Beck, BR. et al (2016). Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) Position Statement on Exercise Prescription for the Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2016.10.001
[3] Osteoporosis Australia www.osteoporosis.org.au