Osteoporosis: How to Prevent Bone Loss through Sports

by Jasmin Arnetzeder, Sports Scientist

Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become porous and more fragile over time, increasing the risk of fractures and breaks. Read about how strength training and the right nutrition can help prevent this and improve your bone health.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones become weak and brittle, putting you at a higher risk of breaking bones in a fall. It is a common disease, often affecting people over the age of 50.

Bone density decreases as we get older; this is a normal part of the aging process. However, patients with osteoporosis experience bone loss more rapidly than those without it. The result may be that bones fracture or break more easily, especially bones in the hip and spine, which can have long-term consequences. 

An estimated 5.2 million women and 1.1 million men over the age of 50 in Germany have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, more than 200 million worldwide, and the numbers are rising. Women are affected in higher numbers than men, due to the drop in estrogen levels after menopause. Osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, is widespread among women 50 and over. 

Good to know:

We can only build bone mass until we’re about 30 years old. At this age you reach your peak bone mass. By the age of 40, we begin to experience bone loss.

This is precisely why you should be sure to get enough exercise in years of rapid growth, prioritizing strength training, which strengthens your bones as well as muscles. This way you will reach the highest possible bone density, which you can then draw on as you age.  

Who is most at risk of developing osteoporosis? 

You can find out whether you have an increased risk of osteoporosis by conducting a bone density scan or a medical exam. There are many factors that affect your bone health, some of which you can’t change: age, gender, genetic predisposition, etc. However, there are also many that you have influence over: eating habits, smoking, alcohol consumption, and – most of all – your physical activity. 

Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis 

Nutrition with Osteoporosis 

As always, a balanced diet is very important with osteoporosis. Your body needs calcium to build bone mass, which can only be absorbed in combination with vitamin D. Calcium is mainly found in dairy products, but also in many green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, leeks, broccoli, as well as herbs like chives and garden cress. Your body can produce vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, which we usually don’t get enough of during short winter days. This is why vitamin D3 supplements are recommended. 

Sports with Osteoporosis

In addition to a balanced diet with enough calcium and vitamin D, regular physical activity is an important part of maintaining bone health. Weight-bearing activities like running are especially helpful, and this also activates your cardiovascular system. Strength training is the most effective, however, because it puts stress on your bones, which prevents bone loss. As you train your muscles, they will pull against the bone, stimulating bone tissue growth and increasing density. 

Put simply:

Strength training is good for your muscles and bones; without this stimulation, you will experience muscle and bone loss.

Implement the following three components into your training plan to improve bone health: endurance training for your cardiovascular system (e.g. running), additional coordination and balance exercises, and strength training. This way you will cover the key areas for osteoporosis prevention and keep your bones as healthy as possible. 

Exercises for Osteoporosis

If you are working to prevent bone loss and stimulate bone tissue growth, there are plenty of exercises to get you there. You can decide exactly how intense and what kind of strength exercises you prefer. The best options are bodyweight training or exercises with equipment like resistance bands or dumbbells. The Plank exercise is highly recommended and there are plenty of variations on it: 

Barbell training with traditional exercises like deadlifts and squats are also very effective. People at higher risk of the disease should include these exercises in their training routine:

This kind of strength training is described as hypertrophy-specific (growth) training – 8 to 12 repetitions at an intensity of 75% of your maximum weight. Strength training using equipment or suspension training are other effective ways to increase muscle growth. 

You can also find great exercises for your home workout in our adidas Training app along with videos and photos for guidance. 

The Workout Collection in the adidas Training app includes prepared workouts. We recommend “Power Up” and „Oscar“ (Walking Lunges, Low Plank, High Plank, Push-ups) as well as “Tango” and “Uniform” for bone loss prevention.

Download the adidas Training app today and get motivated by your own progress – you’ll be amazed at what you can do! 

About Jasmin:

After completing her degree in Sports Science, Jasmin went on to specialize in back health as a certified personal trainer. In her professional life she focuses on the field of preventive strength training, as well as back and spine problems. In her leisure time she enjoys dancing, trying out new, healthy recipes, and hiking.


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