This page includes the osteoporosis exercise plan for Exercise for Better Bones — my book on osteoporosis exercise. I have organized this osteoporosis exercise plan page into six sections. Click on the link to advance to a specific section.
- Tips and Suggestions
- Osteoporosis Exercises from Exercise for Better Bones
- Osteoporosis Exercise Contraindications / Exercises to Avoid
- Weight Bearing Exercise Recommendations
- Osteoporosis Exercise Guidelines
- Osteoporosis Exercise Intensity Guidelines
- Is Exercise the Path to Strong Bones?
In most of the postings I have included the video demonstration and a description of the exercises — in many cases using the transcription from the video or a detailed account of the exercise.
The Balance Exercises from the Exercise for Better Bones can be located in the Balance Exercises for Seniors guide.
This section includes exercises that I have posted on my site after a client asks me to clarify how to do a specific exercise that is not in the Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan as well as tips and suggestions on how to do certain exercises.
- Safe Squat Technique
- Proper Leg Press Form
- Tricep Cable Pulldowns
- Lat Pulldown Proper Form
- Why is Grip Strength Important
- Warm Up Exercises for Seniors Video
- Chest Press Resistance Machine Proper Form
- Does Osteoporosis Cause Pain in the Hips?
- Dangers of Yin Yoga for People with Osteoporosis
- Physiotherapy Exercises for Thigh Muscles • Inner Thigh Exercise
This section includes exercises from the Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan and is organized by level and class of exercise. The Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan includes all of the exercise details and workout schedules for each level.
Here are several general education videos before you start your Exercise for Better Bones program:
2.1 Exercise for Better Bone (Beginner)
2.1.1 Beginner Strength
- Energy Tree • Warmup 1
- Curtsy Lunges • Warmup 2
- Marching in Place • Warmup 3
- Squats with Ball Against Wall (with Burst Resistant Stability Ball)
- Reverse Fly Exercise
- Reverse Lunge
- Horse Stance Exercise • Vertical
- Physical Therapy Bridge Exercise • Beginner
- Bow and Arrow Exercise
- Alternating Leg Lifts in Prone Position
- Side Lying Leg Lift • Side Leg Lifts
- Angels in the Snow
- Push Ups Variations • Wall Push Ups
- Bicep Curl Variations • Standing Biceps Curl
- Tricep Extensions • Supine Tricep Extension • Beginner
- Heel Drop Exercise
- Abdominal Exercises for Osteoporosis • Beginner Level
2.1.2 Beginner Level — YouTube Playlist
2.2 Exercise for Better Bone (Active)
2.1.1 Active Strength
- Energy Tree • Warmup 1
- Curtsy Lunges • Warmup 2
- Marching in Place • Warmup 3
- Chair Squats
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Spine • Prone Exercise
- Forward Lunge Exercise
- Horse Stance Exercise • Horizontal
- Physical Therapy Bridge Exercise • Bridge with Weight Exercise
- Row Exercise • Bent Over Row Exercise
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Hips • Hip Raise Exercise • Feet on Chair
- Side Lying Leg Lift with Weight
- Floor Pullovers
- Push Ups Variations • Step Push Ups
- Bicep Curl Variations • Alternating Bicep Curl in Standing
- Tricep Extensions • Supine Tricep Extension • Active
- Step Up Variations • Step Up Exercise
- Abdominal Exercises for Osteoporosis • Leg Drops for Active
2.2.1 Active Level — YouTube Playlist
2.3. Exercise for Better Bones (Athletic)
2.3.1 Athletic Strength
- Squat with Weights
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Spine • Ball T, M and Y Exercises • Athletic
- Forward Lunge Exercise • Lunge in Line
- Step Up Variations • Step Ups with Dumbbells • Athletic
- Physical Therapy Bridge Exercise • Bridge Exercise Up 2 / Down 1
- Row Exercise • One Arm Dumbbell Row Exercise
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Hips • Hip Raise Exercise • Feet on Ball
- Band Walks Exercise
- Osteoporosis Back Exercises • Swiss Ball Pullover with Single Dumbbell
- Push Ups Variations • Floor Push Ups
- Bicep Curl Variations • Single Leg Bicep Curl
- Tricep Extensions • Stability Ball Tricep Extension • Athletic
- Squat Jumps • Double Leg
- Abdominal Exercises for Osteoporosis • Leg Drop 90/90 • Athletic
2.3.2 Athletic Level — YouTube Playlist
2.4. Exercise for Better Bones (Elite)
2.4.1 Elite Strength
- Lateral Lunge • Warmup 1 • Athletic and Elite
- Hip Hinge Exercise (Bird Nod) • Athletic and Elite
- Step Lunges • Warmup 3 • Athletic and Elite
- Single Leg Wall Squat with Stability Ball
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Spine • Ball T, M and Y Exercise • Elite
- Dumbbell Walking Lunge
- Step Up Variations • Step Ups with Dumbbells • Elite
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Hips • Hip Raise Exercise • Feet on Ball • Position A
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Hips • Hip Raise Exercise • Feet on Ball • Position B
- Osteoporosis Exercises for Hips • Hip Raise Exercise • Feet on Ball • Position C
- Row Exercise • Single Leg Row
- Side Lying Leg Lift on Stability Ball
- Osteoporosis Back Exercises • Swiss Ball Pullover with Two Dumbbells
- Push Ups Variations • Twist Push Ups
- Bicep Curl Variations • Side Lunge with Bicep Curl
- Tricep Extensions • Stability Ball Tricep Extension • Position A
- Tricep Extensions • One Arm Tricep Extension on Stability Ball • Position B
- Squat Jumps
- Abdominal Exercises for Osteoporosis • Leg Drops • Advanced
2.4.2 Elite Level — YouTube Playlist
I have prepared a detail blog post on osteoporosis exercise contraindications in which I cover exercises to avoid with osteoporosis. Consider these to be an important part of your osteoporosis exercise plan.
You build bone with weight bearing activities and exercises. In this section I touch on several weight bearing exercises (part of any osteoporosis exercise plan). In the Exercise for Better Bones program, I describe more weight bearing exercises you can do based on your assigned exercise level (based on fracture risk and activity level).
- Rowing Machine Form
- Is the The Elliptical a Weight Bearing Exercise
- Clock Lunges
- What Effect Does Regular Weight Bearing Have on Joints
- Best Exercise Equipment for Osteoporosis
- Running and Osteoporosis
- Guide to Nordic Walking
How does the Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan compare to the guidelines provided by leading organizations? The MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan meets and even exceeds the guidelines provided by Osteoporosis Canada and the National Osteoporosis Foundation
I am pleased to say that the published guidelines from these two organizations agree with the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise program. The main difference between the guidelines published by Osteoporosis Canada and the NOF and the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones Program is that the MelioGuide is more specific about the exercise by fracture risk and activity level.
5.1. Osteoporosis Canada and the National Osteoporosis Foundation
Releases that came from the top organizations on osteoporosis in both Canada and the U.S., so Osteoporosis Canada and the National Osteoporosis Foundation, both of which chose the summer of 2014 to release their exercise guidelines, where they give specifics on strength training, on posture, on weight-bearing, on balance.
I’m really excited to say that here at MelioGuide, we’ve had those same guidelines for the last seven years, and so, you now have, as listeners, the added reassurance that these big organizations are following the MelioGuide guidelines.
The difference being is that here at MelioGuide, those of you who have gone into the osteoporosis exercise plan programs, or worked with me individually, or have spoken to me by the phone through consultation, you know that we also look here at MelioGuide at your activity level at your start, as well as your fracture risk.
5.2. Published Osteoporosis Exercise Guidelines
In this section, I discuss recent research on recommended exercise intensity levels for women with osteoporosis and specifically how it affects their osteoporosis exercise plan.
A recent study shows that age does not affect exercise intensity among women and this has significant implications for exercise for women with osteoporosis.
Should you modify an exercise program for a woman based on her age? As a woman gets older, should you expect her to make less progress and achieve smaller increments than a younger woman? Should a woman with osteoporosis follow an osteoporosis exercise plan? Should she modify her program? Will she see the same exercise results and progress as a younger woman?
6.1 Age Does Not Affect Exercise Intensity
A new study published in this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (1) has demonstrated that healthy women who have not had prior training can exercise safely and improve their heart and muscle strength at any age.
The study was conducted “to examine the possible influences of age on exercise intensity progression in healthy women” by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo.
6.2 Exercise for Women With Osteoporosis
Quite a few of my clients are “Fifty Plus Women” who live independent, productive and active lives and want to stay that way as they move forward in life. They want to be Fit Past Fifty.
I also have young athletes (often the children of the “50 Plus Women”) who want conditioning programs. Generally, I provide exercise programs and establish fitness goals for both groups that are very similar. I have seen results similar to those determined by the authors of the research study.
Can women with osteoporosis or low bone density expect similar results? Should their exercise programs be modified to account for the fragility of their bones?
I believe that exercise is essential to someone with osteoporosis. When done properly, it improves the quality of bone — thereby strengthening the bone and making it more resistant to fracture. Further, a well designed exercise program improves balance, flexibility and body awareness — all essential to fall reduction and overall well being.
I work with many clients who have osteoporosis or low bone density and develop exercise programs that are safe for their bones and allow them to attain their fitness goals. These programs are part of the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones Program for clients and are all part of the Building Better Bones training program for Health care professionals.
6.3 Study Summary
Two groups of women underwent 13 weeks of exercise training. They both followed the same exercise program and results documented and recorded during the study period. The two study groups were:
- Seventeen young women (29.1 years old, plus or minus 5.7 years)
- Sixteen older women (64.5 years old, plus or minus 4.5 years old)
The 13 week exercise program (for both groups) consisted of :
- Stationary cycling (known as cycle ergometry)
- Whole body resistance training. Specific exercises included bench press, leg press, seated row, knee curl, shoulder press, calf raise, triceps push-down, bicep curls, and abdominal exercises.
- Stretching exercises
The exercise program for women was designed to develop aerobic capacity, muscle mass and strength, and flexibility and was performed twice a week during the 13 week study period on all participants. The exercise intensity of the aerobic and resistance training was increased whenever an individual displayed improved performance.
A comparison of the progressions across all of the individual exercises between the two groups was not significantly different – meaning that the performance improvement of the older group was not that different than that of the younger group.
I believe that the implications of this study are very significant for women with osteoporosis. They should expect that they can make significant progress in their overall fitness, reduce their fall risk and improve their bone health – provided they follow a safe and effective exercise program for osteoporosis.
- Ciolac, EG et al. (2010) Age Does Not Affect Exercise Intensity Progression Among Women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Vol 24, Number 11: 3023-3031.
On April 1 of this year, the New York Times published an article titled “Exercise is not the Path to Strong Bones”.
What? Could this be true or is this an April Fool’s prank? I am not sure what the Times was thinking when they put this out. Quite a few confused clients and readers contacted me to see if the was some new science indicating that exercise was not the path to stronger bones. Here is my response to that article:
Being April 1, I thought maybe this was a bit of an April Fools, but then I realized, when there was a rebuttal five days later, and I didn’t hear anything else on the New York Times, that it wasn’t a joke.
A couple of things that really bothered me with Gina’s article. So there’s three key points here.
Point #1 — Bone Density or Bone Quality?
She talks about the low change in bone mass with studies that looked at bone through bone density DEXA scores. It is true in that over the years, many studies looked at bone change just looking at DEXAs.
The more recent way of looking at bone is through a peripheral quantitative computed tomography test, looking at the quality of bones. Many of you have followed my blogs and know that I talk a lot about bone quality and not just bone density, because strength of bone is a combination of both, and exercise impacts the quality of bone more than just the density of bone. That’s really critical.
Point #2 — Does 1% Matter?
Alex Hutchinson in his article, his rebuttal, in Runners World titled “Is Weight-Bearing Exercise Really Useless for Bone Strength? Contrary to reports, exercise does matter for long-term bone health,” and he actually makes a really good point.
He looks at that 1% that Gina pushes off as being insignificant. We know that 1% loss or 1% gain is significant.
Even in the short time span of a year, losing 1% is very significant when you think of the lifetime of your bones. We’re looking at losing 1% a year after you reach peak bone mass. That’s somewhere, for some people, between the ages of 25 and 30. We know for women who go through menopause, that bone loss even accelerates with menopause. Maintaining bone or gaining bone at rate of 1% is so significant.
With more recent studies, when we look at the quality of bone and they look at a meta-analysis and they look at numerous studies, they can find bone changes happening in the order close to 1% in just 13 weeks. So that’s super exciting. That’s looking at number one, that the difference between bone density and bone quality and how it’s measured.
The Pharmaceutical Option
Gina also talks about drugs in her article, the pharmaceuticals, and she talks about very strong pharmaceuticals, the brand name being Prolia. But it is also very expensive, in the order of, in Canada, $4000 a month. It’s a daily injection.
It’s something that’s done for 18 months to 2 years. And then followed up with a bisphosphonate, which is another pharmaceutical that she blows off in her article.
For some people, these drugs are important, but for most people they’re not necessary and they come with numerous side effects, unlike exercise, that the only side effects are positive.
Point #3 — Type of Exercise
Now, Alex brings up a good point in his article in regards to the differences of exercise.
Not all exercise is created equal. Cyclists don’t have as good bones as runners. We know that distance runners don’t have as good bones as short distance runners. We know that people that lift heavier have better bones than people that do lighter endurance type lifting. We have to look beyond just exercise as one big term, but what type of exercise, how intense that exercise is, how appropriate it is for you, the intelligence of the exercise that’s chosen.
That’s why within the Exercise for Better Bones, I cover the flexibility in a safe and effective way. I cover balance exercises, strength exercises, and I cover all the different cardiovascular choices you have based on your fracture risk.
We’re not all created equal. The challenge that the 60-year-old that walks into my clinic has hasn’t exercised in a year, her challenge level is going to be very different than the 45-year-old who’s coming off of doing 10 Ks and looking to build her upper body strength and build bone through her spine.
Should You Exercise?
When I see articles like what came up in the New York Times, it just really frustrates me because I get people going, “Well, should I still exercise? Is exercise still helpful?” Absolutely, it is, because exercise is what’s going to make the difference between growing old with good quality of life. It’s going to make the difference of, “Oh, I can go on a holiday. I can easily pick up my bags. I’m pain-free. I’m enjoying life. I don’t worry about how I interact with my grandchildren. I’m not thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to break another bone.'” Exercise is going to make a difference in your life beyond just that 1%. And that 1% is so very important.
That’s all I’m going to rant on today. Thank you for tuning in. Margaret from MelioGuide.
- Gina Kolata, Exercise is not the Path to Strong Bones. NY Times April 1st, 2016
- Alex Hutchinson, Is Weight-Bearing Exercise Really Useless for Bone Strength? Contrary to reports, exercise does matter for long-term bone health. Runner’s World April 5th, 2016
- Evans RK et al. Peripheral QCT sector analysis reveals early exercise-induced increases in tibial bone mineral density. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2012 Sep;12(3):155-64.
- Polidoulis I, Beyene J, Cheung AM. The effect of exercise on pQCT parameters of bone structure and strength in postmenopausal women–a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Osteoporos Int. 2012 Jan;23(1):39-51.
Five Part Introduction to Osteoporosis Exercise
- Osteoporosis Tutorial Introduction
- Kyphosis Exercises to Avoid
- Osteoporosis Exercise Guidelines
- Osteoporosis Exercise Treatment
- Osteoporosis Therapy Exercises
- Yoga and Osteoporosis
- Core Strength and Osteoporosis
The osteoporosis exercise plan listed on this page is based on the Osteoporosis Guidelines I have described on this website.