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Exercise, lifestyle, and your bones

Osteoporosis - exercise; Low bone density - exercise; Osteopenia - exercise

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Description

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle and more likely to fracture (break). With osteoporosis, the bones lose density. Bone density is the amount of bone tissue in your bones.

Exercise plays a key role in preserving bone density as you age.

Why Exercise?

Make exercise a regular part of your life. It helps keep your bones strong and lower your risk of osteoporosis and fractures as you get older.

Before you begin an exercise program, talk with your health care provider if:

How Much and What Type of Exercise?

To build up bone density, the exercise must make your muscles pull on your bones. These are called weight-bearing exercises. Some of them are:

Weight-bearing exercises also:

To protect your bones, do weight-bearing exercises 3 or more days a week for a total of over 90 minutes a week.

If you are older, check with your provider before doing high-impact aerobics, such as step aerobics. This type of exercise may increase your risk for fractures if you have osteoporosis.

Low-impact exercises, like yoga and tai chi, do not help bone density very much. But they can improve your balance and lower your risk of falling and breaking a bone. And, even though they are good for your heart, swimming and biking do not increase bone density.

Other Lifestyle Changes to Help Your Bones

If you smoke, quit. Also limit how much alcohol you drink. Too much alcohol can damage your bones and raise your risk of falling and breaking a bone.

If you do not get enough calcium, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium from the foods you eat, your body may not make enough new bone. Talk with your provider about calcium and your bones.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb enough calcium.

References

De Paula, FJA, Black DM, Rosen CJ. Osteoporosis: Basic and Clinical Aspects. In: Melmed S, Auchus, RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ , eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 30.

National Osteoporosis Foundation website. Healthy Bones For Life: Patient's Guide. cdn.nof.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Healthy-Bones-for-life-patient-guide.pdf. Copyright 2014. Accessed May 30, 2020.

National Osteoporosis Foundation website. NOF's clinician's guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. cdn.nof.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/995.pdf. Updated November 11, 2015. Accessed August 7, 2020.

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Review Date: 5/30/2020  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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