Several years ago, I took my mother for her bi-annual checkup, and her primary care provider asked her if she goes out for walks. My mother was in her late 80s, and she said that she used to go for long walks, but that she stopped. The doctor took his prescription pad and wrote on it to go for daily walks of at least 30 minutes.
I was amazed that he actually did that, and even more when he explained to her the importance of weight-bearing activities to enhance health, including bone health. Finally, a doctor who was up to date on the latest research about the most effective and safest intervention for improving health and preventing bone loss!
Today we'll look at a scientific report published in 2017 that compiled data from previous studies to provide health practitioners with research-backed recommendations for prescribing exercise to prevent and reverse osteoporosis. You'll also find out the unfortunate truth about why most doctors are not aware of the latest scientific discoveries.
Exercise As A Prescription For Osteoporosis
The professional association of physical medicine practitioners Exercise and Sports Science Australia published a report that included the results of numerous scientific studies on exercise and bone health.
This allowed them to construct specific guidelines for safe and effective exercises for bone health that doctors can prescribe to patients. Their core message was that exercise is a powerful and highly effective strategy for preventing and reversing osteoporosis, when properly prescribed. They recommended lifelong exercise that includes regular, brief, weight-bearing, high-impact exercise, and high intensity progressive resistance training (PRT).
Their research also recommends doing a variety of activities to continually expose the skeleton to new patterns of loading, and they also recommend balance training.
For individuals with more advanced bone loss, termed high-risk in this study, the authors recommend a fall prevention program that focuses on balance, mobility training, and high-intensity progressive resistance training. They noted that high load PRT and moderate impact loading have been found to be safe and well-tolerated in older adults– and effective at improving bone mass and reducing kyphosis (Dowager's Hump).
The baseline exercise prescription the study recommended was a minimum of two weekly sessions of PRT, four to seven weekly sessions of impact activities, and balance training.
Additionally, the study notes the importance of adequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D, both of which are Foundation Supplements.
A review study examined previous studies on the effects of exercise on osteoporosis and fracture risk. Based on their findings they determined that exercise is a highly effective and safe intervention for bone loss and should be prescribed by health care professionals. The advised lifelong exercise includes regular, brief, weight-bearing, high-impact exercise, and high-intensity progressive resistance training (PRT).
Why Aren't Doctors Up To Date?
These recommendations are no surprise to Savers, but they probably didn't get them from their doctor. Instead of recommending the most effective and safest form of intervention, many doctors prescribe a dangerous and ineffective quick-fix: osteoporosis drugs.
These drugs have life-altering side effects such as atypical fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw, to mention a few. Why aren't doctors prescribing exercise instead?
One report, published in the Australasian Medical Journal points to the disconnect between practicing medical doctors and the field of medical research. Practicing doctors are rarely involved with studies and don't necessarily keep up with the large number of new published research that’s published each year.2
Instead, they receive information and promotional material from Big Pharma companies. In fact, pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year promoting their products. The result is that doctors who are not abreast of the latest science get convinced to prescribe drugs that may be ineffective or worse, actively harmful.
Consider this passage from the report cited above:
“Worryingly, there is sometimes a relative lack of urgency when a drug is clearly shown to be harming patients. For example 19.8 million patients were prescribed five questionable drugs before action was taken to remove them from the market. This included painkillers, anti-histamines, drugs used to treat obesity and anti-hypertensive drugs. Not one of these were lifesaving nor, in many cases, were they the only drugs available for that indication. In another case physicians prescribed a new painkiller to 2.5 million patients with acute pain, even though many well-tested similar drugs were available and the drug was known to elevate liver enzymes.”2
This story may sound familiar to Savers, because it echoes what is still happening with bisphosphonates. These osteoporosis drugs can have life-alterating awful side effects while failing to address the root of the problem. They remain widely prescribed, In spite of research showing how these drugs can actually wind up causing the fractures they're supposed to prevent.
Doctors are often unaware of the latest medical research. One report suggested this may be because doctors are rarely involved in research. Instead, they can become uninformed and susceptible to advertising and influence from Big Pharma. That dynamic leads to overprescription of drugs that turn out to be ineffective and harmful– just like what happens with bisphosphonates, a class of popular osteoporosis drugs.
What This Means To You
You might not have a doctor who is as informed as my mother's primary care provider was. But fortunately, you have the intelligence and drive to learn what the latest scientific research has taught us about how to prevent and reverse osteoporosis.
The Save Institute is working to make the benefits of those discoveries accessible to you. That's why we created SaveTrainer. Our online video workout platform has professionally led exercise videos that target all of the areas outlined in the study today– including weight-bearing exercise, balance-building workouts, and more.
Use the scientifically-proven power of exercise to build stronger bones, better balance, and longer healthier life.
Comments on this article are closed.
This is my first introduction to save our bones.
I feel very encouraged and excited to know more especially the exercise program as well as the diet recommendations.
Thank you so much,
I’m only 66 years old…. And my last dexa was -4.1 down from -3.9.
The endocrinologist is recommending for Teo for 2 years followed by prolia indefinitely.
Will your program really work for me? Given I am this advanced?
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago, and I also have Osteoporosis. I take a small dosage of a drug for the PD, but my neurologist told me that exercise and diet is THE main medication. I hike/walk everyday for 2 miles, and use the online SaveTrainer program exercises for balance and strength. Keeping active definitely makes a difference in overall wellbeing. I try to always be conscious of the acidity content in choosing food, but fall short much of the time. The main thing is to keep trying…diet and exercise are the keys to overall good health.
Vivian, your information is invaluable to me. Diagnosed with osteoporosis awhile ago. I’m 84 years old. I am not taking any drugs other than Latanoprost for possible glaucoma. Have been using food you recommended and exercise for my prescription. Had a bad fall in Italy,
only a black eye for 2 weeks but have never had any broken bones so far.
Thanks for the information you provide.
Have you heard of a company called Osteo Strong? I just went to a presentation and it looks intriguing. I just was diagnosed with osteoporosis with a dexa. Two of my three numbers were in the osteopenia range. Considering doing osteo strong and wondering your thoughts.
I am in Australia and have seen the Osteostrong program. It is a gym machine based program. I have been following the SaveOurBones program for around 3 years, though not religiously. Last October (2 yrs after diagnosis) I had my regular Osteo scan and blood tests and my doctor said: “I know you don’t take medications, so whatever you are doing, keep doing it, as you are now not classed as having osetoperosis.” When I was initially diagnosed, my doctor suggested I take the prescribed medication, but I declined, stating that I had done a lot of research into it and considered the possible unsavoury side effects far outweighed the benefits. I did more research for natural remedies and found Vivian’s program. I follow the SOB eating plan, though not strictly, but I do make sure I exercise for 20-30 minutes on at least 5 days per week. I use a rower, rebounder and free and cable weights (I own a small Fitness & Leisure Centre), but equipment is not a necessity for impact and strength exercises – so no excuses!. I also lead a pretty active life, and enjoy riding my pushbike. (I am early 70s but most people think I am early 50s.) I have recommended the SaveOurBones program to others, and will follow it for the rest of my life, since it is so natural and so easy to do. I am so grateful for having found it.
I was prescribed Fosamax by my PCP many years ago for Osteopenia and had a reaction from it and was referred to an Endocrinologist. He prescribed Prolia every 6months..After 3 doses I stopped after reviewing the side effects.My PCP told me I should continue and referred me to another endocrinologist …bone density showed osteoporosis levels had worsened….she recommended to continue with the injections. I refused and her reply was “”then you don’t need to see me anymore!”. I thanked her and left. I have been in the health care field for over 50 years and was shocked at her comment!!!
I had the same reaction from my long-time health care provider when I researched Prolia and refused to take it. It was very disappointing. I walked out of that office and never looked back. They told me if I was not going to take Prolia, then there was no need for future dexascans…Save Institute has been my go-to resource for a few years now and so far seems to be working for me!
How do you tell your Doctor you don’t want meds? My Doctor asked me once told her no and I go back to see her soon.I know it will be the first thing that comes out of her mouth.Wish I could find a Doctor that understands.
I do not use drugs, only supplements and exercise. I would like to purchase Save Trainer if it were a DVD. I’m not techie enough to know how to cast it from my computer to my tv.
Tqvm.this is very enlightening,i could not agree more.currently i exercise under guidance of a trained physiotherapist plus i do daily morning walks.despite having T12# from motor vehicle accident some decades ago,ending up with osteoporosis on my hips region,i am leading normally without any biphosphonates or analgesics..gbu do stay happy healthy and safe.
Avoiding the medication route and trying to improve my bones through strength resistance training using bands. Would like to try load bearing using weights but need to take account of my other diagnosis and balance.
I find all articles from save our bones extremely invaluable. I’ve come off all pills and partake in regular exercise. Which is far more beneficial to me.
Vivian I was diagnosed at 75years of age with Osteoporosis- my Chemist told me about the court cases in USA over Foxamax. Somehow I found your site. In November I’ll be 93years old- I’ve been careful of what I eat, followed your program; have good balance; walk unaided; still live alone with home help. My daughter does my shopping. I’m attending a GYM twice weekly again (after a long break). Thanks for your great service. AUSTRALIA.