Osteoporosis is a progressive problem that is characterized by low bone density. This means the bones become thin and brittle, making them more likely to break. Bone density can be affected by certain types of treatment for cancer. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor will likely order a DEXA scan to see the strength of your bones. Exercise, along with adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, and good nutrition, is an important way to prevent and manage osteoporosis.
There are two types of exercise that help to build and maintain bone density:
- Weight Bearing Exercise
These are exercises that make you move against gravity while staying upright. High impact weight bearing exercises help to build bones and keep them strong. Examples of this type of exercise are dancing, jogging/running, hiking, jumping rope and high-impact aerobics. If you have a broken bone due to osteoporosis, or are at risk of breaking a bone, low impact weight bearing exercises are a safe alternative. Examples of this type of exercise are: elliptical or stair-step machines, brisk walking on a treadmill or outside and low-impact aerobics.
- Muscle Strengthening Exercise
These are exercises where you move your body, a weight, or some other resistance against gravity. Examples of this type of exercise are: lifting free weights, using elastic bands, using weight machines and functional movements (such as squats or heel raises).
Certain exercise positions, such as those that have you bend forward, may not be safe for people with, or at risk for, osteoporosis. A Physical Therapist can help you learn which exercises are safe and appropriate and design an exercise program to improve strength, balance, and posture as well as bone density.