Part 5: Exercise to Build Bone Density


Moving right along in our osteoporosis series, we’ve begun discussing lifestyle changes to reduce our risk of low bone density and fractures.

Today let’s discuss exercise. Most doctors agree that exercise will help strengthen and build bone. However, bones don’t just automatically strengthen when you take calcium, you need to stimulate bone formation.

Your body is sent messages to build skeletal strength when your soft tissues (fat and lean muscle) grow. The lower your body weight, the less bone strength is needed to support you. As you get heavier your body needs to get stronger to support you. Your muscle mass is important for maintaining and building bone density.

But hold on there, being overweight is not a get out of jail free card. Obesity presents it’s own issues. Obesity can cause bone loss due to many issues such as diabetes, insulin resistance click here to learn more, sedentary lifestyle, weight loss methods (such as gastric by-pass) and various medications to manage other health issues.

You need to have a consistent regimen of weight bearing and strength training exercise. It also improves your circulation and cues the osteoclasts and osteoblasts to fortify your bones. Exercise also triggers hormone release.

It is best to consult with your doctor first as high impact exercises can be dangerous for weak bones. You don’t want to cause damage by exercising too vigorously.


Weight Bearing Exercises

Some weight bearing exercises include

  • brisk walking

    Hiking also provides beautiful scenery
  • jogging
  • hiking
  • descending stairs
  • using a weighted vest
  • tai chi
  • high impact exercises
  • yard work
  • basketball
  • soccer
  • tennis
  • dance
  • stomping firmly
  • marching

These should be done 15-30 minutes, 3-4x per week.

Notice exercises such as swimming and biking will not help, because they are not weight bearing.


Strength Training Exercises

Strength training is important because stronger muscles equal stronger bones.

Resistance exercises use:IMG_1940

  • weights- machines, free weights
  • resistance bands
  • body weight
  • isometrics



Some of these include:IMG_1463

  • leg press
  • overhead press
  • weighted squat
  • seated row




Note: ALL your bones need the benefits of exercise, not just your hips.

You can try vibration platforms if you can’t do any weight bearing yet for about 20 minutes per day. Don’t use the kind that vibrate excessively, as they can do you harm.


Additional examples of exercises that help build bone are:


  • jumping jacks- don’t lock your knees
  • power jumps
  • wide stance squat -bend to chair height, can add weight when ready
  • wrist curls
  • superman
  • calf/toe raises
  • arm curls
  • leg curls
  • hamstring curl
  • pull down
  • squats
  • push ups
  • and so many others

Now get out there and have some fun!    Be consistent!

You may have noticed I saved nutrition for last. It is definitely the hardest part to sort out. We’ll do what we can to try and figure it out.

Other posts in this series…

Low Bone Density: Who’s at Risk?

Bone Density Pt 2: Testing and Diagnosis

Part 3: Osteoporosis Medications

Part 4: How Not to Break Your Bones


Some Sources:

Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health

Osteoporosis Exercises: A Proven Exercise Program Involving Strength Training for Building Bone Density

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