The Exercises You Need for Bone Health

Box of stretch bands

Build stronger bones by adding strengthening, posture and balance exercises into your workout for osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Disclaimer: If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Well Guide contain information from peer-reviewed research, medical societies and governmental agencies; however, these articles are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

When it comes to bone health, the research is clear: certain exercises are better than others. All exercises have a purpose, but building bone requires specific types of exercises that can trigger the physiological changes that lead to stronger bones. If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, or if you are simply looking to avoid bone loss as you age, the three specific types of exercises you’ll want to prioritize include: strengthening exercises that are weight-bearing and include resistance, posture exercises and balance exercises (Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation). 

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into each of these exercise types, explaining why these particular exercises are critical for bone health and how you can incorporate them into your daily life and regular exercise routine. (We’ll give you a hint: all three are included in every Wellen workout!)

1. Strengthening Exercises

The two main types of strengthening exercises you need for bone health are weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises. 

Weight-Bearing Exercises

Weight-bearing exercises are exercises that involve supporting the weight of your body. They are most often standing, such as squats and lunges, but they can also be performed in other positions such as quadruped (hands and knees) or side-lying (a side plank, for example). The position you’re in will put your body-weight over different body regions, benefiting those specific regions and allowing for an increased load over a target area. According to Wolff's Law, bone will adapt to the loads under which it is placed. This means bone will become stronger if you increase the amount of load on it. That’s exactly what weight-bearing exercises do.

Resistance Exercises

One of the best and easiest ways to improve the bone-building capacity of any exercise is to add resistance. Resistance can come in many forms, including free weights, kettlebells, or resistance bands. Adding resistance exercise challenges your body by increasing the load on the body more than it normally sustains in daily life. By adding resistance and systematically increasing that resistance according to a training plan, you are telling your body it needs to adapt to tolerate higher loads (McMillan, 2017). This signals the brain to direct the cells in your body to build more bone (and muscle), which is how and why resistance training is excellent for building and maintaining strong bones. 

Keep in mind that these two types of exercise do not have to be mutually exclusive. For added benefits, simply add resistance to weight-bearing exercises or try doing upper body resistance exercises in a weight-bearing position (standing, lunging) (Zhao, 2015). You can even make choices in your daily life such as taking the stairs or walking home carrying your groceries (if that’s an option) to incorporate both of these into your regular routine. The possibilities are endless. 

2. Posture Exercises

Posture exercises address the “anti-gravity” muscles in your body to help you improve and sustain better alignment and stability. Good posture can reduce musculoskeletal injuries and pain, improve efficiency of movement, and even reduce your risk of developing spinal compression fractures (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Posture exercises also serve as an important foundation for all other exercises, especially resistance exercises. Before adding resistance or load to your body, you’ll want to make sure you know how to achieve good alignment to set your body up for success and lower your risk of injury. 

3. Balance Exercises

Balance exercises are another essential element of a bone healthy exercise program, as they can help prevent falls which, for someone with osteopenia and osteoporosis, can lead to life-changing fractures and other injuries (Zhu, 2021). Learning how to safely challenge your balance and address the different systems that help keep your body stable, strong and upright will help protect your bones and allow you to age more actively, and with less fear.

The 3 Pillars of Wellen Workouts

As you can see, each one of these exercise categories serves a purpose, which is why they are the three pillars of all Wellen workouts. Incorporating strengthening, posture and balance exercises into your routine is the best way to ensure that your workout will help you build and maintain strong bones. 

Wellen workouts aim to bring these exercises together into smooth, full-body workouts that are enjoyable and designed specifically for women with osteopenia and osteoporosis, from start to finish. But don’t forget that nutrition and lifestyle choices are also essential for active aging and ensuring that you are doing all that you can to build and maintain healthy bones.

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  1. Osteoporosis Exercise for Strong Bones. Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation. Accessed 01/18/2023.
  2. McMillan L, Zengin A, Ebeling P, Scott D. Prescribing physical activity for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in older adults. Healthcare. 2017;5(4):85. doi:10.3390/healthcare5040085.
  3. Zhao R, Zhao M, Xu Z. The effects of differing resistance training modes on the preservation of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: A meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2015;26(5):1605-1618. doi:10.1007/s00198-015-3034-0.
  4. Compression fractures. Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 2, 2022.
  5. Zhu L, Wu W, Chen M, et al. Effects of Nonpharmacological Interventions on Balance Function in Patients with Osteoporosis or Osteopenia: A Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials [published correction appears in Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Jun 5;2021:9892786]. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021;2021:6662510. doi:10.1155/2021/6662510

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