The Osteoporosis-Exercise Myth

In All Health Watch, Arthritis, Featured Article, Fitness and Exercise, General Health

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may think, “My bones are fragile, so I should take it easy to prevent a fracture.” 

It’s a logical thought. But it’s completely wrong. 

A new study shows that exercise doesn’t lead to more fractures. It is actually one of the best ways to prevent them.

The research was published in the journal JAMA Network Open. It followed more than 77,000 women for over 14 years. About a third reported having at least one bone fracture.[1]

Participants who spent at least 35 minutes or more on daily activities were considered the most active. They had an 18% lower risk of a hip fracture. And they had a 6% lower risk of fractures in general.

Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende was a study co-author. She said the findings show that fracture reduction “is among the many positive attributes of regular physical activity.”[2]

Although the subjects were women, there’s no reason to think the results wouldn’t apply to men, too.

Among older people, fractures are associated with higher risk of disability and worse. Hip fractures lead to death in as many as 20% of patients.

Dr. Michael LaMonte, first author of the study, said the main takeaway is “sit less, move more, and every movement counts.” 

Best Exercises for People With Low Bone Density

The National Osteoporosis Foundation says there are two types of exercise for building and maintaining bone strength and density:

  • Weight-bearing exercises. These are activities in which you’re moving against gravity. They include: walking, jogging, dancing, playing tennis, climbing stairs.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises. These include lifting weights or using resistance bands. But you can also do certain exercises without weights. These include push-ups, pull-ups, and squats.

Having osteoporosis doesn’t mean you should turn into a couch potato. Exercise may be the best treatment there is to strengthen your bones.

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