University of Illinois Extension

What About Exercise?

We looked at physical activity earlier as one way of strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis. Physical activity is vital at every age for treating and preventing osteoporosis. Exercise not only improves bone health, it also increases muscle strength, coordination, and balance, and leads to better overall health.

The best exercise for bones is weight-bearing exercise. In this type of exercise, you are working against gravity. This type of exercise includes walking, hiking, jogging, stair climbing, tennis, dancing, and weight lifting. Non-weight bearing exercise includes bicycling and swimming.

Before you begin any exercise program, talk with your medical care team to see which activities are best for you. Current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for adults 18 and older:

You can spread the activity over the week in 10 minutes at a time. If you have been sedentary and want to begin a physical activity program, this may sound like an impossible task for you to do.

The key is to start slowly. If you are starting a walking program and can only walk one block the first time you go out, that's a good start. Continue walking every day, gradually increasing the time and distance you are walking. Soon you will reach the 150 minutes per week and may even go beyond that!

Of course at the beginning of your new exercise program, you may experience some soreness or discomfort at the beginning. This should not be painful nor should it last for more than 48 hours. If it does, you may be working too hard so ease up. If you have any chest pain or discomfort, stop exercising and see your physician.

Remember to dress comfortably, wear good shoes, and take along some identification. You may find exercise more fun and doable if you exercise with someone else. They can be your motivator!

CAUTION: If you have osteoporosis or low bone density (osteopenia) check with your physician before beginning any type of exercise program.