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What exercises are good for osteoporosis?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 20, 2023.

Official answer


The best exercises to help prevent osteoporosis are weight-bearing exercises which are grouped into high impact and low impact.

These are exercises that you do on your feet so that your bones and muscles are working against gravity to keep you upright.

Exercises such as swimming and cycling aren’t weight bearing exercises because, when swimming, your body is supported by water; and when cycling, your body is supported by a bike. Even though they may not help strengthen bones, they are good for other reasons, such as improving flexibility and fitness, which is still important for your overall bone health.

High impact exercise usually involves a lot of jumping around and may not be suitable for people who are at high risk of breaking a bone.

The best time to start exercising to protect your bones is now! Encourage your children and grandchildren to be active, because how your bones are later in life depends upon how strong they were when you were young. Always talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise. Some of the exercises listed below are not suitable for all age groups.

High impact exercises to prevent against osteoporosis:

  • Aerobics
  • Ball games such as basketball, football, hockey
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Hiking
  • Jogging or running
  • Jumping rope or skipping
  • Racket sports such as badminton, tennis, and squash
  • Trampolining.

Low impact exercise to protect against osteoporosis:

  • Balance exercises
  • Cross-training machines
  • Elliptical training machines
  • Exercising with resistance bands
  • Gardening
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Martial arts (such as karate and taekwondo)
  • Press-ups, Squats, and Lunges
  • Resistance bands
  • Rock climbing
  • Strength-training using your body weight
  • Tai Chi
  • Walking
  • Weightlifting.

For people with significant osteoporosis, a gentler approach may be needed. Some examples of exercises that you can do while seated in a chair are:

  • Chest stretch: Sit upright and stretch your arms out. Gently push your chest out until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and repeat 10 times.
  • Upper body twist: Sit upright, cross your arms and put your hands on your shoulders. Keep your hips still and twist your upper body to look over your left shoulder and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat for the right shoulder. Do 10 times each side.
  • Hip marching: Sit upright and hold the base of the chair. Lift your left leg with the knee bent as high as possible, then place on the floor. Repeat with the right leg. Do each leg 10 times.

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