Exercise to strengthen bones (for osteoporosis)
It's been a challenge to find accurate information about exercise to strengthen bones. For me it's been a long process of culling out the information that is based on real research. The following seem to help according to the research data I have been able to find.
Balance training — some say this strengthens bones, others that it simply reduces falls. But, either way, the end result is to reduce fracture risk. A web search will provide many exercises. Tai Chi improves balance.
Swimming — this is disputed because it's not weight bearing. But there is a body of research that shows benefit for bone density. For example, one meta-analysis report found that 3-6 hours of swimming/week increases bone density. More time decreases bone density because the body is non-weight bearing for too long. Less is not enough.
Weight bearing exercises — many reports provide extensive research demonstrating the benefit of correct exercises done in the correct way. The problem is finding out which are those exercises and how to do them. It took me months to track this down, but I was able to find the information and I can share if requested.
Walking — If done as a weight bearing exercise this can help. That means using a weighted vest, or doing the kind of walking that results in significant impact — for example jogging, climbing stairs, climbing stairs two at a time, jumping, dancing. It seems that walking around at a normal pace does not increase bone density.
Do not help: My research shows that the following don't help with bone density: Yoga, tai chi, pilates. However , in my opinion un-backed by any research, these could help if they were adapted to provide bone strengthening.
If anyone is interested, please advise of specific questions and I will endeavor to provide links or upload documents.