Some exercises can reduce the risk of osteoporosis or the severity of symptoms. However, some may not be safe for people with the condition.

Around 10 million people in the United States currently live with osteoporosis. This disease is more common among older females. Those with low bone density or a family history of osteoporosis are also at a higher risk of developing this condition.

Some forms of exercise can worsen osteoporosis symptoms or increase the risk of falling. For example, high impact exercise and contact sports may be unsuitable for individuals with osteoporosis.

This article will examine what exercises are unsuitable for those with osteoporosis. Keep reading to learn more about how different types of exercise affect people with this condition.

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People with osteoporosis may develop muscle weakness, posture issues, or spinal curvature. All of these factors increase the risk of experiencing a fall. Because osteoporosis weakens bones, even a minor fall could lead to serious injury.

Additionally, certain sporting activities may increase the likelihood of falling. Sports that can be especially dangerous for those with osteoporosis may include:

  • equestrian sports
  • skiing or snowboarding
  • football
  • hockey
  • soccer

High impact or contact sports may increase the risk of falls or serious injuries. Individuals with osteoporosis can speak with a doctor to learn more about what sports to avoid.

Golfing may not be as harmful as sports such as football or hockey, but it may lead to injuries that affect the:

  • ankles
  • knees
  • hips
  • wrists
  • the spine
  • elbows

Almost 41% of amateur golfers experience a golf-related injury each year. As such, golfing may not be an appropriate hobby for people with osteoporosis.

Situps are a type of exercise that involve spinal flexion, which refers to the bending of the spine. According to a 2018 review, situps can increase the risk of spinal fractures for people with osteoporosis.

Crunches may involve a smaller range of motion than situps, but they still involve spinal flexion. People can speak with a physical therapist to learn more about safe abdominal exercises for osteoporosis.

Yoga is a beneficial exercise for increasing flexibility and muscular strength, but certain yoga positions may be dangerous for people with osteoporosis. These positions include:

  • forward folds
  • rag doll
  • pigeon
  • rolling like a ball
  • seated twists

Rapidly moving between yoga positions can also increase the risk of a broken bone. People with osteoporosis need to avoid transitions such as jumping out of downward-facing dog.

Although strength training is important for people with osteoporosis, certain weightlifting exercises can be harmful. These exercises include:

  • chest press
  • chest fly
  • lat pull down behind the head
  • knee extensions
  • seated rows

Exercises, such as the chest press, involve spinal compression, which can increase the risk of spinal fractures in people with osteoporosis. Exercises, such as seated rows and knee extensions, may encourage slouching and lead to spinal injuries.

Although certain exercises are unsuitable for people with osteoporosis, many safe exercise options exist. Regular exercise is crucial for strengthening bones and muscles and slowing bone loss.

Exercise can also enhance coordination, which may reduce the risk of falling.

Weight-bearing aerobics

Weight-bearing aerobic exercises help build muscle mass and strengthen bones. These exercises may be especially beneficial for people with osteoporosis. Examples of weight-bearing aerobic exercises include:

  • dancing
  • walking
  • climbing stairs
  • playing tennis
  • jogging

The right type of weight-bearing exercise varies from person to person. People with mild osteoporosis may enjoy a brisk jog or a friendly game of tennis. Those with more severe forms of the condition may find low impact options, such as walking, more suitable.

Swimming or water aerobics

Swimming is a low impact exercise that improves strength and cardiovascular fitness. Research has shown that it can be particularly effective for osteoporosis. One 2020 review notes that regular swimming may increase bone strength in people with osteoporosis.

Those with osteoporosis may also find water aerobics classes helpful for improving fitness while minimizing stress on joints. According to one 2017 review, water aerobics classes may have links to enhanced bone health in postmenopausal women. However, more research is necessary.

Other suitable exercises

Although people with osteoporosis may need to avoid specific exercises, there is a wide range of exercises that may be safe for individuals with the disease, such as:

  • tai chi
  • strength training
  • balance exercises
  • cycling
  • gentle stretching

A person needs to speak with a doctor before beginning any new exercise program. Only a medical professional can determine which exercises are safe for each individual.

People experiencing new or worsening symptoms of osteoporosis needs to speak with a doctor. Symptoms may include:

  • back pain
  • changes in spinal shape
  • posture issues

People with osteoporosis may experience fractures after minor falls or during routine activities. A doctor can identify what is causing the pain and provide treatment recommendations.

Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to thinning and weakened bones. Certain types of exercise can help prevent or treat this condition. However, other activities may be unsafe for people living with osteoporosis.

High intensity sports, such as football or hockey, can increase the risk of falling and experiencing a fracture. Yoga positions that involve bending or twisting the back can lead to spinal injury. Some weightlifting exercises can also increase the risk of spinal fractures.

People with osteoporosis can speak with a doctor before trying a new exercise. With proper support, those with this condition can enjoy a range of exercises suitable for their needs.