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Exercise for Osteoporosis

Recommendations for optimizing bone strength.

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Older woman doing exercise for osteoporosis

Exercise improves bone mineral density for people with osteoporosis, but questions remain regarding safety and effectiveness. The current global population with high osteoporotic fracture risk is 158 million, and that number is expected to double in 40 years.

Experts from Loughborough University in England formed a working group in 2017 to define a consensus statement. The resultant guidelines consist of the following exercise recommendations for all people with osteoporosis:

  • Do muscle-strengthening physical activity and exercise 2–3 days per week to maintain bone strength.
  • Include progressive resistance training, starting at 8–12 reps at maximum resistance, building up to three sets. Begin with lower-intensity exercise to ensure good technique before increasing intensity.
  • Target all muscle groups—particularly the back—to promote a strong spine.
  • Spread physical activity across the day as a minimum and avoid prolonged sitting.
  • Include impact exercise 4–7 days per week, with each session including 50 jumps. (Do 3-5 sets of 10–20 jumps with 1–2 minutes of rest between sets.)

For more detailed guidelines for people with vertebral fractures or who are frail and less able to exercise, check out the full guidelines published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2022; 56 [15]).

See also: Exercises for Clients with Osteoporosis

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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