Pilates and Osteoporosis - What you should know

Osteoporosis or porous bone disease is a disease characterized by low bone mas density (BMD) and structural deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased susceptibility to bone fractures.

Certain weight bearing activities can help prevent, slow down and sometimes reverse the effects of Osteoporosis. Pilates is no exception. Your bone health is very important especially as you age. For women in their menopausal years the reduction in estrogen starts to affect their bone mass density.

Postmenopausal women can decrease their risk of Osteoporosis and bone fracture by a well balanced diet and a resistance training program. There are many MYTHS associated with osteoporosis, don't let them fool you.


  • Osteoporosis affects men and women.
  • Nearly half of all bone is formed during the teen years.
  • OSTEOPENIA is a sign that your bones are becoming weaker.
  • It is projected that one in two women over the age of 50 will have an Osteoporosis fracture in her lifetime.
  • The most common fracture sites are hip, spine and wrist.
  • Strong muscles help to prevent falls that could result in bone fractures.
  • Balance is the first thing that we start to lose as we age!
  • Muscle strength is key to good posture and balance.
  • Bone responds to changing your exercise regime and increased intensity.

    Weight bearing activity and Pilates resistance training incorporated into your daily lives can help you maintain a good bone mass density.

    During your Pilates exercise you will use not only gravity and your own body weight but resistance bands, springs (on a Tower or Reformer)and sometimes free weights.

    Resistance bands, Swiss balls and surgical tubing are great ways to introduce gentle resistance and often incorporated into Pilates exercise classes.

    Pilates may be a new exercise for you therefore you are 'surprising' your bones which will help to stimulate your bones into growing. When bones are challenged they produce cells called osteoblasts which improve your bone density.

    Pilates will help increase your co-ordination, balance, posture and reflexes helping you to avoid falling. If you do fall you may well be able to catch yourself in time and prevent a bone fracture.

    If you are over fifty years old and would like more information regarding how to keep fit, and have more questions on what is best for your health Fitness for Fifty Plus can give you more ideas and helpful tips.


    Swimming and cycling are not considered weight bearing activities.


    If you have been diagnosed with osteporosis is it important that you consult with a Doctor and advise your Pilates Instructor.You will need to avoid any flexion of the upper back (thoracic spine) and certain Pilates exercises will need to be avoided.

    The good news is that there are still plenty of strengthening exercises that you can perform laying down on your mat or even standing. If you are standing then you may need support which could be as simple as holding the back rest of a chair or foam roller.

    You will still incorporate the basic principles of Pilates which will help to strengthen your core muscles, improve your breathing concentration, balance and awareness. You may also choose to attend some lessons at a studio that offers Pilates equipment training.

    Did you know that researchers are now suggesting that there is a link between depression and Osteoporosis?



    Nutrition is an important factor to consider. You may also wish to have discussions with your Doctor who can discuss Hormone Replacement Therapy options with you. Speak with a registered Dietitian who can give you solid advice about your diet and supplements.

    To find out more about Osteoporosis visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation Website.

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