Exercise Physiologist & Health Coach
I’ve heard that exercise can help strengthen bones and ward off osteoporosis. What are the best exercises for this?
The two most important types of exercise to increase bone strength are weight-bearing workouts and resistance training, also called strength training.
Any exercise or activity in which you are upright on your feet working against gravity is weight bearing. Walking, jogging, climbing stairs and dancing are examples of weight-bearing activities. Aim for doing those types of activities for 150 minutes per week.
Resistance training involves using free weights (dumbbells and barbells), weight machines, resistance bands, or your body weight. These exercises should be done on two to three nonconsecutive days per week. Do eight to 12 repetitions of each resistance exercise, rest for a minute or two, and repeat the routine one or two more times.
As the body ages it loses bone mass or density. The process begins at about age 35 and occurs more rapidly in women after menopause. Many studies have shown that strength training increases bone mass, especially in the spine. According to a 2009 study by Canada’s McMaster University, an intensive, yearlong weight-training program increased spinal bone mass in postmenopausal women by 9 percent.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s still important to exercise. However, you should take precautions. Check with your doctor, physical therapist or a knowledgeable exercise professional for recommendations.
Rhonda Zonoozi is an exercise physiologist/certified health coach at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. Learn more at www.sunhealthwellbeing.org or 623-832-WELL (9355).
(Originally published May 26, 2017; last updated Jan. 12, 2019.)