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Exercises for Clients with Osteoporosis

When working with any clients diagnosed with osteoporosis, you want to maximize the benefit, but you must also take care to avoid unnecessary risk. If mobility and posture are altered after a vertebral fracture, pay close attention to correct lifting technique and avoid pitfalls such as loading the spine in a flexed posture. For example, since exercise machines often require twisting and forward bending, you may need to avoid using them with clients who have osteoporosis (Giangregorio et al. 2014). Also, tailor the intensity and type of exercise to minimize chronic pain—a condition that is common in clients with a previous osteoporotic fracture.

Resistance Training

Include all major muscle groups at least twice a week.

  • Include 2 sets per exercise, 8–12 reps per set.
  • Avoid exercise machines.
  • Use slow and controlled movements.


Aim for 15–20 minutes daily to accumulate at least 2 hours a week.

  • Include three-dimensional exercises such as tai chi.
  • Encourage lifestyle-integrated exercises:
    • tandem stance while washing dishes
    • closing eyes while doing static tasks

Aerobic Training

Do not use this to the exclusion of resistance or balance training. Aim for 150–300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75–150 minutes of vigorous exercise.

  • Include exercises with dynamic, high-force movements (jumping, skipping).
  • With clients at high risk of vertebral fracture, do not do vigorous exercise or dynamic, high-force exercises.

Source: Giangregorio et al. 2014.

To read more about the workings of the skeleton and the risks of bone loss, please see “Bone Health: A Primer” in the online IDEA Library or in the June 2018 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

Maria Luque, PhD, MS, CHES

Maria Luque, PhD, is a health educator, fitness expert, presenter, writer and USAF veteran. She created Fitness in Menopause, a company dedicated to helping women navigate the challenges and rewards of menopause. Her course “Menopausal Fitness: Training the Menopausal Client” is NASM-, AFAA- and ACE- accredited. She holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in health sciences and teaches at the College of Health and Human Services at Trident University International.

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