Osteoporosis and Exercise


PDC Health Hub


Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone becomes weak and brittle causing them to break more easily. It occurs when the body starts losing minerals, and/or a lack of certain growth hormones, in which the body starts losing more bone density than it replaces. Osteoporosis usually has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. To be diagnosed you will need to see a health care professional and take a bone scan test to look at your T-score levels. Scores you will see are:

  • 1 to -1 = Normal
  • -1 to -2.5 = Osteopenia (low bone density)
  • -2.5 or lower = Osteoporosis


Osteoporosis can occur at any age but is seen most prevalent in middle aged and older adults. It is seen to occur mostly in post-menopausal women due to the changes in hormones. As we get older we start to lose our strength and balance, therefore putting us at a falls risk. A fall with osteoporosis will most likely cause a fracture. Sadly, after sustaining a hip fracture, 20% of people die within the first year, 40% are unable to work independently, and 60% require long-term care.

There are many ways in which osteoporosis can be prevented and treated in order to avoid any fractures.



Exercise plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis. It is one of the best known ways in improving and maintaining bone density and also increase muscle size and strength in order to support our bones. Exercise must be regular and at a certain amount of intensity for it to have an effect and must be specific to help bone strengthening. Recommendations for exercise include:

  • Vigorous intensity exercises to create enough strain for the bones to have a growth effect
  • Resistance exercises at least 3x a week with high load, low volume (6-8 reps) training are seen to have greater effects.
  • High impact exercises causing a safe amount of stress to the bone for it to grow. Eg, jogging, skipping, jumping


Intensity plays an important role on how much benefit exercise will have on BMD. As stated above, studies have shown that weight lifting at a higher load will give the greatest effects to bone strengthening. Inversely training under a light load with higher volume (15-20 reps) have little to no benefits on bone strengthening. Walking, although great for overall health, also has little to no benefits to bone mass and strength. When training under heavier loads, technique is very important to prevent injury. Please seek guidance from an exercise physiologist so that we can find exercises suitable for you.

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