Presse Santé

What are the most effective activities to limit osteoporosis?

What is osteoporosis?

The term “osteoporosis” translates to “porous bone”. It refers to a condition that causes the bones to weaken. The risk of sudden and unexpected fractures is higher in people with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves loss of bone mass and strength.

The disease often appears without any symptoms or pain, and is usually noticed when the weakening of the bones causes painful fractures. The most common fractures affect the hips, wrists and vertebrae.

What causes osteoporosis?

Scientists understand how osteoporosis develops, without knowing the exact causes. Bones are made up of living tissue that is constantly growing. The inner part of healthy bone is like a sponge, called trabecular bone. The outer shell of dense bone covers spongy bone called cortical bone.

When osteoporosis appears, the “holes” in the “sponge” grow and multiply, weakening the inner part of the bone. Bones support the body and provide protection for vital organs. It also serves as a reservoir for calcium and other minerals. When the body needs calcium, it breaks down and rebuilds bone. This phenomenon, called bone remodeling, provides the body with the necessary calcium while maintaining bone strength.

In principle, bone formation is greater than bone loss until approximately age 30. From age 35, bone loss occurs at a faster rate than bone formation, increasing in the loss of bone mass. In the case of osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass is faster.

The importance of physical activity for people with osteoporosis.

A sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, poor balance and weak muscles increase the risk of fractures. A person with osteoporosis can improve their health by exercising in several ways, including:

  • Decreased bone loss
  • Preservation of residual bone tissue
  • Improve physical condition
  • Improved muscle strength
  • Develop a sense of balance
  • Reduce the risk of bone fractures due to falls
  • Pain reduction
  • Improve mood and vitality.

Recommended exercises for people with osteoporosis.

Exercises recommended for people with osteoporosis are:

  • Weight-bearing aerobic exercise, such as dancing
  • Resistance training using free weights such as dumbbells, resistance bands, body weights, or weight machines
  • Exercises to improve posture, balance and body strength, such as tai chi.

Ideally, weekly physical activity should include some element of these three groups.

Swimming and water exercises for people with osteoporosis.

Swimming and exercising in water (such as water aerobics or hydrotherapy) are not weight-bearing exercises because the buoyancy of water opposes the effects of gravity. However, exercising in the water can improve your cardiovascular health and muscle strength.

People with severe osteoporosis or kyphosis (curvature of the upper back) who are at high risk of bone fractures may agree that swimming or exercising in water is their favorite activity.

Walking for people with osteoporosis.

Although walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it does little to improve bone health, muscle strength, fitness, or balance. Unless it is done at a high intensity, such as a faster pace, for a long time (such as bushwalking) or on difficult terrain, such as hills. However, for people who are inactive, walking can be a safe way to introduce physical activity.

Exercises to avoid for people with osteoporosis.

A person with osteoporosis has weak bones that break easily. He should avoid activities that:

  • Include forward bends in the spine, such as abdominals.
  • Increase the risk of falling.
  • Requires sudden, forceful movements unless introduced gradually as part of a progressive program.
  • Requires a strong twisting motion, such as a golf swing, unless the person is used to such motions.


* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language that everyone can use. In NO CASE, the information provided is a substitute for the advice of a health professional.

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