Exercise for Osteoporosis Treatment

Hip x-ray by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, PES, CPT

Keep up your exercise to prevent,
and even reverse the effects of Osteoporosis!

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study last month that showed promise for parathyroid hormone drugs for building bones, and Fosamax for retaining the new bone. The drug, called Forteo comes with side effects of dizziness, fatigue and joint pain, and there are concerns that long-term use could be cancerous.

Did you know that weight-bearing and resistance exercise can build bone too? (J A Todd and  R J Robinson, 2003.) Bone density is built with weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, dancing, playing tennis, jumping rope or any other activity in which your bones and muscles work against gravity. Resistance training using free weights, machines or bands also builds bone by making your muscles work and pull on the bone, causing increased density.

I have a client who has proven the benefits of exercise with her regular exercise routine. My client was 36 when she fractured her pelvis while delivering twins. A bone density test revealed osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis). She started exercising with me, and takes 1260 mg of Citracal calcium (with 800 IU of Vitamin D). For the last four years, she has been a star client. She has been walking several times a week and performs resistance training exercises with dumbbells, tubing and a stability ball 3 times a week. Her consistency of exercise has rewarded her with steadily increasing bone mass. She has gone from having a diagnosis of osteopenia in 2001, to normal ranges in 2005, and there’s no sign of it slowing down! Look at her results below.


If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have a history that predisposes you to the disease, talk to your doctor about whether exercise might be the right option for you, instead of, or in addition to your medication.

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