Bones are similar to muscle—the more you work them, the stronger they become. You can give your bones a workout by doing weight-bearing and resistance, or strength training, exercises. Weight-bearing exercise requires you to support your own weight during the activity. This includes walking, jogging and jumping. Swimming and bicycling while seated, however, are not weight-bearing. These activities help slow bone loss.
If you already have osteoporosis, the higher-impact exercises might not be appropriate because they can fracture bones. You may have to go with a lower-impact workout. Resistance training—working with weight machines, dumbbells, fitness bands or even your own weight—also helps maintain bone density and offers another benefit: It maintains or increases muscles mass, which further protects bones. Plus, stability and body awareness also improve with strength training: When you step off the curb and stumble, your muscles, along with your joints and connective tissues, can help you regain your balance so you don't fall.
While any exercise is better than no exercise, it is best to participate in a variety of physical activities including both weight-bearing aerobic exercises and resistance training. A varied program helps improve muscle development and strength, as well as improve impact on bones. Look to diversify your program and reap the most benefit by using as many different muscle groups as possible.