It’s easy to understand why many people with osteoporosis think exercise isn’t advisable. After all, when you’re suffering from a disease characterized by thin, brittle bones that can fracture easily when placed under mild stresses or a fall, the large majority of exercises would seem to increase fracture risk, not the opposite.

But that isn’t the case. Not only is a sedentary (inactive) lifestyle a risk factor for osteoporosis, low- and moderate-intensity exercise are actually beneficial for osteoporosis sufferers. What’s more, even certain high-intensity exercises may be OK, a suggestion emphasized by a recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. According to the study, intensive resistance training in the form of twice-weekly, 30-minute sessions of supervised deadlifts, overhead presses, squats and chin-ups increased bone mineral density after eight months compared to unsupervised, low-intensity exercise performed at home (same frequency, same duration as high-intensity group).

The study group was comprised of a specific osteoporosis population (postmenopausal women, ages 58 and older), and it’s important to note that more research needs to be done to confirm these findings, since existing guidelines generally recommend only low- and moderate-intensity exercise for osteoporosis sufferers. That said, the point is clear: If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, don’t avoid exercise! Talk to your doctor for more information and to establish the proper exercise program / intensity suitable for the severity of your condition.