Osteoporosis and Weight Bearing Exercises

We all know that the skeletal system is the structural framework of your body giving us the shape and the posture. The bone, like any other tissue undergoes the cycle of breaking down and being replaced by new tissue. However as we age this balance is often disrupted and the breaking down weighs more than the replacement resulting in a condition termed as OSTEOPOROSIS.

Healthy bone & Osteoporotic bone
How common is Osteoporosis?

Over 61 million Indians have osteoporosis and over 80% are women!

After the age of 30, we start losing the bone density. In fact women will lose up to 20% of bone density in 5-7 years after menopause. And by 65 men and women lose bone density at the same rate.

How serious is the problem?

Loss of bone density sometimes causes life-threatening or life changing fractures of spine or hip. Sometimes the fracture in the spine will not have a fall behind it ,instead the bone just crumples resulting in pain, stooped posture and lose of height. Osteoporosis is the single most common cause of fracture in the elderly population. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 sec.

However there is a good news! We can prevent or delay the onset of osteoporosis by proper & regular exercises.


1.Weight Bearing exercise: Exercises that include activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright are weight bearing exercises.

2.Strength training exercises: Activities where you move your body, weight or some resistance against gravity are strength training exercises.

Weight Bearing Exercise and Bone Density:

Numerous studies have shown that weight-bearing exercise can help to slow bone loss, and several show it can even build bone. Bone responds to the forces applied to it. This includes the force generated by the muscles/tendon or against gravity. Such activities that put stress on bones stimulate extra deposits of calcium and nudge bone-forming cells into action. The result is stronger, denser bones. When you walk, run, hop, and skip, you are pushing against gravity in order to move. The impact of your every step sends a signal to bone to grow stronger to help keep you moving.

What are the types of weight bearing exercises?

Weight bearing exercise can be low impact as in low impact aerobics, elliptical trainer, fast walking or high impact as in jumping, skipping, running, high impact aerobics, tennis. While the high impact exercises help build the bone it is not advisable for elderly with known history osteoporosis. Low impact exercises also help in building the bones and muscles.

What should be avoided if you have osteoporosis?

A person with osteoporosis has weakened bones that are prone to fracturing. They should avoid activities that:

  • involve loaded forward flexion of the spine such as abdominal sit-ups
  • increase the risk of falling
  • require sudden, forceful movement, unless introduced gradually as part of a progressive program
  • require a forceful twisting motion, such as a golf swing, unless the person is accustomed to such movements.

Regular exercise program is an essential part of Osteoporosis treatment. The impact of the exercises on the bone density is time and again proved by many researchers. However, it is strongly recommended to get the right advice on starting an exercise schedule from your doctor or physiotherapist before you start.

Sunandha Sampathkumar
Sunandha Sampathkumar

Masters in Physiotherapy, Wellness Coach for Seniors