If you’ve been exercising regularly yet developed low bone density anyway, your movement habits need to change, but you can do it fairly easily.

1. Move your body in new ways

Choose exercises that work your body in different directions than you’re used to. If most of your workouts consist of walking, try yoga poses, dance workouts.

2. Do weight-bearing exercise

Weight-bearing is not the same as using weights! There is a lot of confusion on this point. Weight-bearing actually refers to how much of your body weight you are holding up while exercising. For example, walking would be more weight-bearing than riding a bike. And swimming is the least weight-bearing exercise, as the buoyancy of the water is doing most of the work to hold up your body.

3. Favor activities that get you up on your feet to load your bones with your own body weight

Do the treadmill instead of an exercise bike for part or all of your workout. Walk the golf course instead of getting a cart. Stand up and do some stretches or knee lifts while you watch TV, rather than sitting on the couch the whole time. Stand at the sink to do your make-up rather than sitting at a make-up table.

4. Critique your gait and what’s affecting it

Often when I am developing an exercise program for someone with low bone density in the spine, I can identify habits in their gait patterns that are decreasing the loading signals to the bone. High heels (even one inch!) and excessively cushioned shoes also quiet the signal that would help build bone density in the hips and back.

5. Add balance exercises to help prevent fractures

The most significant health risk for anyone with low bone density is the risk of a fracture. Falling can definitely lead to fractures or bone breaks, so balance exercises to help prevent falls should be at the top of your exercise list! Try using a “wobble board” or inflated half-ball or include moves that strengthen one side of your body at a time, such as one-legged squats or yoga’s Tree Pose and Warrior III.

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