10 Best Easy Weight Bearing Exercises For Osteoporosis

Effective and simple exercises to protect your body from this bone condition.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nathan Kadlecek, PT, DPT Dr. Nathan Kadlecek Dr. Nathan KadlecekPT, DPT linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2 years
 • 

Weight-bearing exercises for osteoporosis are effective for strengthening the bones and preventing loss of bone tissue. Over 200 million people worldwide have osteoporosis (low bone density). This increases the risk of fractures and affects the quality of life in men over 65 years and postmenopausal women over 55 years (1), (2).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the prevalence of osteoporosis among Americans aged 50 and above was 12.6% from 2017-2018. It was further observed that the prevalence was higher in women (19.6%) when compared to men (4.4%).

If you are over 50, start doing weightlifting exercises. Read on to learn how to do 10 low-impact and no-impact full-body strength training or resistance training exercises. Read on!

protip_icon Weight Bearing Exercises For Osteoporosis
  • Frequency: 3–4 times per week
  • Benefits: Improve muscle strength and increase bone density.
  • Equipment Needed: Yoga mat, light dumbbells, sturdy chair, resistance band.
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: Yes
  • Who Should Avoid: People with recent injuries or fractures.

What You Need

Note: Talk to your doctor before doing these exercises.

10 Best Weight-Bearing Exercises For Osteoporosis

1. Seated Bicep Curls With Dumbbells

Seated bicep curls with dumbbells exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @JessicaValantPilates

How To Do

  •  Grab a 2 lb dumbbell in each hand.
  •  Sit on a chair with your feet and knees hip-width apart, elbows pressed to the body, hands down, and palms facing up. Roll the shoulders back, chin up, and look straight.
  •  Exhale, bend your elbows, and raise your hands till the shoulder level.
  •  Pause for a moment, inhale, and lower your hands.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Note: Heavier weights are also safe and recommended if you are comfortable with them. Heavy lifting as demonstrated by the LIFTMOR trial shows that it is completely safe to lift heavy weights and is recommended by those with osteopenia and osteoporosis (3).

2. Arm Raises With Resistance Band

Arm raises with resistance band exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @CarolMichaelsFitness

How To Do

  •  Grab a tube resistance band.
  •  Anchor the band with your right foot, keep your hands down, roll the shoulders back, and look straight. This is the  starting position.
  •  Exhale and raise your hands until the shoulder level.
  •  Inhale and lower your hands down.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

James Frank Sanders, a blogger, wrote about his experience in his senior community, where a 90-year-old female resident fell and broke her leg due to osteoporosis. He got in touch with the woman’s nurse, Sally, who suggested that daily resistance exercises can help prevent osteoporosis. He writes, “ I tried it with my exercise bands for about ten minutes. It tired me, but I was satisfied this was an effective way to ward off osteoporosis before it ate into my body frame (i).”


protip_icon Quick Tip
It is important to use a band that you can move through the full range of motion. A band that is too heavy or light may cause injuries or make the workout less effective, respectively.

3. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Seated dumbbell shoulder press exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @JessicaValantPilates

How To Do

  •  Grab 2 lbs dumbbells.
  •  Sit on a chair with your feet and knees hip-width apart.
  •  Raise your hands laterally up. Bend your elbows so that the forearms are perpendicular to the upper arms. Turn the wrists outward, roll the shoulders back, chin up, and look straight. This is the starting position.
  •  Inhale and slowly push both your arms above your head, bringing the heads of the dumbbells together.
  •  Pause for a moment, exhale, and lower your arms to the starting position.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

4. Supported Bent Over Row

Supported bent over row exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @JessicaValantPilates

How To Do

  •  Grab a light dumbbell with your right hand.
  •  Bend forward, place the left palm on the seat of the chair, and extend the right hand towards the floor.
  •  Take a step back with your right leg, keep the knees soft, align the neck and back, and look down. This is the starting position.
  •  Exhale, bend your elbow, and pull the right hand towards the side of your bust. Squeeze your shoulder blades.
  •  Inhale and lower your hand to the starting position slowly.
  •  Do this 8 times before switching hands.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8 reps for each hand.

5. Best Over Fly

Over fly exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @margaretmartinpt

How To Do

  •  Grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  •  Stand with your feet hip-width apart and soften the knees.
  •  Bend forward from the waist, extend your hands, open your chest, and look at the dumbbells. This is the starting position.
  •  Exhale, raise your hands laterally up, and squeeze the shoulder blades.
  •  Inhale and bring the hands down.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
protip_icon Quick Tip
You may practice this exercise without using weights. Once you are ready, you can start using lighter weights and gradually increase and add more weight.

6. Bodyweight Wall Push-Ups

Bodyweight wall push-ups for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @DrAndreaFurlan

How To Do

  •  Standing 2 feet away from a wall.
  •  Place your palms on the wall at shoulder level. This is the starting position.
  •  Bend the elbows and bring your chin closer to the wall.
  •  Pause for a moment and get back to the starting position.
  •  Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

7. Chair Squats

Chair squats for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @JessicaValantPilates

How To Do

  •  Grab a light dumbbell in each hand. Join them, emulating a “namaste”. Keep the elbows and chin up, roll the shoulders back, and look straight.
  •  Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and toes slightly pointing outward.
  •  Stand up slowly.
  •  Push your hips back, bend your knees, and sit down.
  •  You can ask for assistance if needed.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Note: Avoid this exercise if you have knee issues.

8. Reverse Lunge With Weighted Bicep Curl

Reverse lunge with weighted bicep curl exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @FitnesswithPJ

How To Do

  •  Grab a light dumbbell in each hand, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands by your side. Roll your shoulders back, keep your core tight, chin up, and look ahead.
  •  Take a step back with your right leg.
  •  Bend your knees to lower your body until the thighs and shins are perpendicular to each other.
  •  Simultaneously, bend your elbows and curl up your hands.
  •  Get back to the starting position.
  •  Repeat with the other leg to complete one rep.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

9. Resistance Band Leg Press

Resistance band leg press exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @CarolMichaelsFitness

How To Do

  •  Lie on your back on a mat.
  •  Anchor a flat resistance band with your feet.
  •  Press the knees against the chest with the elbows close to the sides. This is the starting position.
  •  Extend the legs at a 60-70° angle.
  •  Bend your knees and get back to the starting position.
  •  Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

10. Hip Strengthening

Hip strengthening exercise for osteoporosis
Image: YouTube @CarolMichaelsFitness

How To Do

  •  Wrap a loop resistance band above the knees.
  •  Lie on your right side and support your head with the right hand. Keep your knees bent so that the thighs are perpendicular to the shins. Place your left palm on the mat for support. This is the starting position.
  •  Lift your left leg, opening the hip and pelvic area.
  •  Bring it back to the starting position.
  •  Do this 8-10 times before switching sides.
  •  Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

These 10 exercises will help minimize the rate of bone loss due to osteoporosis, conserve the bone tissues, and help in fracture risk reduction. But how often should you do them? Scroll down to find out.

How Often Should You Exercise?

Do these exercises 3-4 days a week, and no-impact or low-impact cardio like walking, yoga, or tai chi rest of the days. Remember, overdoing these exercises may cause injuries. Rest properly and let your muscles recover. However, there are certain exercises that you must avoid at all costs.

Which Exercises To Avoid

If you have osteoporosis, avoid:

  •  High-intensity exercises like sprints
  •  High-impact exercises that involve jumping like box jumps
  •  Exercises that involve twisting the spine
  •  Exercises that involve deep stretches
  •  Balance exercises without support or assistance from physical therapists

Note: It is completely fine to do these types of exercises and movements if you feel okay and don’t have a negative reaction to the movements. As evidenced by the LIFTMOR trial, it is safe to participate in high-intensity physical activities as long as you warm up and work up to heavier weight over a long enough time period (3).

Exercising the right way is crucial for people with osteoporosis. Here are the precautions you should take.

Precautions To Take

  •  Always warm up for 10 minutes before exercising.
  •  If standing exercises are painful, sit on a chair or bench to do them.
  •  Irrespective of the need, always use a mat to prevent injury risk in case you lose balance.
  •  Always exercise in an open space.
  • Ensure fall prevention by wearing comfortable shoes with a good grip.

Apart from exercising, there are a few other things you should do to ensure your bone health. Scroll down to find out.

What Else Can You Do To Strengthen The Bones?

  • If you have osteoporosis, the doctor may prescribe an increase in calcium intake and vitamin D supplements. Take the dose as per the doctor’s recommendation.
  •  Consume organic foods instead of processed, frozen, or canned foods.
  •  Add a healthy dose of nuts, seeds, and fatty fish to your diet.
  •  Go on morning walks.

Weight-bearing exercises for osteoporosis help increase bone density and prevent/slow down the loss of bone tissue, thus reducing the risk of fractures, especially among the elderly. The exercises listed above can be done at home. All you need is a chair, a yoga mat, dumbbells, and a resistance band. Avoid chair squats if you have knee issues or have undergone knee surgery recently. Do the exercises at least 3-4 days a week and go for low- or no-impact exercises on the remaining days. Strictly say ‘no’ to high-intensity and high-impact exercises and deep stretches. Have a partner or a professional by your side while doing balance exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is climbing stairs good for osteoporosis?

Climbing stairs may help improve bone density. However, individuals with osteoporosis should consult their healthcare provider regarding the intensity, duration, and frequency of activities such as stair climbing.

Does walking improve bone density?

Yes, walking at a brisk pace can help improve bone density.

What is the fastest way to increase bone density?

The fastest way to increase bone density is to include weight-bearing exercises in your exercise routine or eat a calcium-rich diet.

Can exercise reverse osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is not reversible, but weight-bearing exercises may help prevent further bone loss.

What core exercises are safe for osteoporosis?

Planks, gentle pilates, and bridges are considered safe for osteoporosis.

Are there any risks associated with weight-bearing exercises for people with osteoporosis?

Yes, if not performed in the right way, weight-bearing exercises may cause fractures due to weakened muscles in people with osteoporosis.

Are there any modifications I should make to my weight-bearing exercises if I have osteoporosis?

People with osteoporosis should modify their weight-bearing exercises to focus on doing resistance training with dumbbells or barbells and elastic band exercises.

Can I still do weight-bearing exercises if I have had a fracture related to osteoporosis?

If you have had a fracture related to osteoporosis, then it is important to consult with your doctor before doing any weight-bearing exercises for your safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Weight-bearing exercises help reduce the rate of osteoporosis-induced bone degradation and minimize the risk of fractures.
  • At least 10 minutes of warm-up is a must. Use a mat to prevent the risk of injuries.
  • Do not go overboard, as overdoing these exercises may result in injuries.
weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Discover a series of easy and effective exercises designed to improve bone strength and balance for individuals with osteoporosis. Watch this video for better bone health and stability.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. An overview and management of osteoporosis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5335887/
  2. Osteoporosis
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)32112-3/fulltext
  3. High-Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women With Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: The LIFTMOR Randomized Controlled Trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28975661/
Was this article helpful?
thumbsupthumbsdown
Dr. Nathan Kadlecek

Dr. Nathan KadlecekPT, DPT

Nathan Kadlecek, PT, DPT is a Columbia University-trained doctor of physical therapy who is passionate about improving healthcare for people by focusing on enhancing their quality of life. He specializes in musculoskeletal injuries, pain, and strength and conditioning. Dr. Kadlecek worked as a physical therapist for 6 years, started a PT/wellness business, and operated it for 4 years.read full bio

Latest Articles