Bone pain doesn't have to take the activity out of your life.

You can stay ahead of bone pain by finding appropriate ways to get exercise that promote overall fitness as well as healthy bone growth. There's boundless research to prove that an active, healthy body can better defeat radical elements like cancer cells than an unhealthy one.

The pain associated with bone metastases is generally worse after periods of long rest. Research shows that exercise — within one's limitations — can be an effective way of combating pain and preventing it from getting worse.

Staying active can even help stop the deterioration of bone.

Exercise using resistance and weights has been proven to slow the rate of bone loss, but cancer patients with bone metastases need to be careful with the amount of stress put on their bones. Because the metastasis can cause bones to become brittle and prone to breakage, cancer patients need to be cautious in selecting which exercises to add to their fitness program.

Some forms of low-impact exercise include:

  • Tai Chi: The slow, fluid movements of this Chinese martial art make it a popular choice among people who want to stay active but have certain limitations. Research into tai chi shows it can help maintain bone strength by increasing production of enzymes that aid in bone growth. A small study published in Clinical Breast Cancer showed that tai chi could provide a safe form of exercise to maintain bone mineral density for women with breast cancer.
  • Yoga: Like tai chi, yoga accentuates flexibility, breathing, and relaxation. While these aspects alone can help alleviate stress and provide an overall feeling of well-being, the exercise and stretching can provide a safe way to alleviate pain and promote bone health. Also, due to its ever-growing popularity, taking a yoga class is a great, healthy way to spend time with friends.
  • Water Exercise: Water provides a safe way to bring resistance into exercise. Whether you're up for swimming laps or just want to walk in the shallow end, an indoor pool can provide a safe way to stay in shape and help maintain bone health. It also can be an easy way to exercise and not have to worry about falling and becoming injured.
  • Stretching: Simple, easy stretches done at home are one way to help prevent a sedentary lifestyle, which research has shown is more damaging to bones than a lifestyle incorporating exercise. Stretching in the morning can help alleviate pain, promote healthy oxygen flow to muscles, and boost the effectiveness of the immune system. Daily stretching is also a good way to prepare your body for other types of exercise.

Before attempting any activity while undergoing treatment for cancer or bone metastasis, consult your doctor to see what kinds of exercise are right for you, what extra precautions should be taken, and what you can expect from your fitness program.