Osteoporosis is a systematic bone disease characterised by low bone mass, compromised bone strength and increased susceptibility to fractures, particularly around the wrist, hip and spine.
- Exercise can help to increase bone density in children especially pre-puberty/puberty, when bones are growing.
- Exercise during and after the menopause can improve muscle tone and decrease bone resorption.
- When it comes to exercise an individual does it depends on the individuals age, ability, DXA scan results (bone density scan), risk of fracture and medical history.
Bone is dynamic tissue, like muscle, that strengthens in response to forces it has to resist. Gravity is one such force, and working against gravity is what we refer to when speaking of "weight-bearing exercise." The combination of compression and tension from gravity and from our muscles plays a major role in bone strengthening.
Although swimming and cycling are great forms of cardiovascular exercise and strengthening, they are both non-weight bearing and therefore have no effect on improving bone density or reducing resorption of bone.
Your bones need additional loading to prevent osteoporosis as well as the general bone loss that naturally occurs with age. This loading comes from weighted & resistance exercises and high impact exercises like walking, running, jumping and dancing. For example walking up and down a stairs 10 times is a third of an adult’s daily weight bearing. You need to move in new ways and to "surprise" the bone, as some researchers are now saying. We need to move in differing directions and at different speeds to encourage the bone to continue to strengthen.