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Osteoporosis and Physical Activity Q&A

November 12, 2015 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Your bones are a wonderful structure. Under a microscope, they kind of look like sponge. And, incredibly, they are constantly being broken down and built back up by bone cells.

There are things you can do to help keep your bones strong and reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis. For example, getting enough bone-building minerals and vitamins like calcium and vitamin D – read more on that here. Another important thing you can do is to be active on a regular basis throughout your life. How does physical activity help? Here are some answers to questions I get as an exercise physiologist with the Physical Activity Line about physical activity and osteoporosis.

How Does Physical Activity Help Prevent Osteoporosis?

Being active through bone and muscle strengthening activities, is essential to BUILD strong bones and muscles until early adulthood. After that, staying active is one of the best ways to KEEP your bones strong. When you “stress” your bones with physical activity (like walking, yard-work, or jumping), it is similar to your muscles getting stronger after lifting weights; your bone cells know they have to keep the bones strong. In other words, use it or lose it!

What Type of Activities Are Best to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Weight-bearing exercises are ideal. This means exercises where you are supporting your body weight and when there is some impact. For example: walking and dancing are great! Exercises where you don’t support your body weight (such as cycling and swimming) are also beneficial because the muscle contractions pull on your bones (which helps strengthen them).

Can I Exercise if I Have Osteoporosis? Are There Precautions I Should Take?

If you have osteoporosis, you should avoid exercises that involve extreme bending (some yoga poses and abdominal crunches for example), extreme rotation (such as golf), and increased risk of falling (such as hockey and football). Try balance exercises or Tai Chi to improve your balance which can help prevent falls. But, I encourage you to work with a Qualified Exercise Professional or look for an osteoporosis-specific exercise class (Osteofit) in your community.

If you have any other questions about osteoporosis give the Physical Activity Line a call (1-877-725-1149).

Related blogs

Heart Disease and Physical Activity Q&A
Hypertension and Physical Activity Q&A
Diabetes and Physical Activity Q&A

Recommended resources

Osteofit: Find a class
HealthLinkBC: Osteoporosis

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