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Prevent Osteoporosis with Weight Training Exercises

Updated on May 9, 2011


Osteoporosis is a silent disease that mostly affects women who are post-menopausal because their estrogen levels decrease, and estrogen helps to protect bone density. Men can also be affected with brittle bones and bone density loss, but for the most part, osteoporosis is most common among women.

The disease causes the bones to become very brittle and prone to fractures. Typically, the hips, spine, and wrists are most affected.

Although, there is no cure for osteoporosis, medication and exercise is commonly prescribed to help maintain and reduce any further loss of bone mass. Exercising is very important, as you can build muscle mass and strengthen the muscles, which in turn helps aid bone tissues become stronger and denser.

It is always best to start weight training and resistance exercises early, so that you can potentially prevent osteoporosis from developing, but you can prevent worsening on the disease by starting as soon as you're diagnosed.

It is recommended to perform weight training exercises at least 3 times a week to enhance your bone growth and reduce any loss. These exercises are the best for osteoporosis because they help promote new cell growth and prevent loss.

Weight training exercises force the muscles to work against gravity to gain resistance and strength, which allows bones to better absorb calcium and other vital vitamins and minerals.

Exercising can not only help promote new bone growth, but it will help strengthen your overall body and promote balance so to reduce the risk of falling and fracturing a bone. Weight- bearing exercises should be performed light to start and increased weight as you build stamina and strength. Start with small repetitions and larger breaks, and build yourself up.

Weight Training for Osteoporosis

Strength training and weight training can actually help prevent bone loss and even help develop new bone. By exercising and weight training, women can actually see a change in their bone density, especially in the hips and spine, which are the two most commonly affected areas of bone density loss.

You want to start exercising as early as you can so that you can potentially prevent osteoporosis. By exercising, you can maintain strong muscles and bones, which will help with your balance, coordination, and overall strength.

Because we naturally lose bone density, exercising and weight training is very important. Most 70 year olds will have lost about 70 to 75% of their muscle mass, which is why older people are generally more weak and tired. You can't prevent all muscle and bone loss, but you can help prevent some by regular exercises.

Exercise to Prevent Osteoporosis

There are many types of exercises that you can try, but the best exercises to prevent and help bone density and osteoporosis are weight training exercises. It is important that you work out your lower body and perform many leg-based exercises because they will help strengthen the hips and spine, which are commonly affected in osteoporosis, but at the same time working out your upper body strength is just as important considering that wrists and arm fractures are also common.

The following list of exercises are those that have been proven the best for osteoporosis. You want to start light and slowly build yourself to adding weights to the exercises when possible. As your stamina and strength increases, add a weight to your dumbbells or leg weights.

  • Bounce push-ups
  • Cycling
  • Dumbbell lunges
  • Hiking (start small)
  • Push ups
  • Rowing
  • Stair climbing
  • Standing bounce jumps
  • Step aerobics
  • Squats
  • Swimming
  • Walking, running, and jogging (avoid concrete; add weights to your ankles as you increase stamina)
  • Weight lifting
  • Wrist curls

Do keep in mind that you do not want to push and overexert yourself, as there are some exercises that can actually interfere with estrogen production and further loss of bone density. If your workouts are heavy, you want to watch for signs of complications by watching your period regularity; if you notice any changes, you want to stop or reduce your exercise routine.

Be careful of aerobic exercises, as they are the most common to affect bone density and estrogen production.

Exercise Tips

When exercising, you want to make sure that you follow the below tips and suggestion to ensure your safety is a priority.

  • Before starting an exercise program or weight lifting routine, you want to consult your doctor to make sure that you are physical able to start working out. Your doctor will probably be able to recommend exercises that can help you.
  • At first, it's a good idea to exercise with a professional trainer so that you can get a good idea as to what exercises you should perform, how often, and to what strength and degree.
  • Always stretch and warm up before and after your session.
  • Try to exercise at least 2 to 3 times a week for about 30 minutes a day. Remember that a little really can go a long way.
  • Perform different types of exercises that work out different muscles. You don't want to work on just your legs and avoid upper body exercises. Include different weight and resistance exercises and combine these exercises with aerobic and cardio exercises, in order to get the most effective workout.
  • As you gain stamina and strength, increase your resistance. Add weights to your ankles while walking, starting with light weights and working your way to heavier ones. Increase your repetitions. Make sure each increase is just a slight one.
  • While exercising, you want to tighten your ab muscles, so that you can help protect your spine.
  • When exercising, make sure that you don't use other muscles to compensate the ones you're trying to strengthen. Your workout won't do you a bit of good if you're cheating.

On a daily, basis when you can't go to the gym to work out, you can add more physical activities to your daily routines. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator and park further away from the door.

Always remember to drink plenty of water while exercising.


If you already have osteoporosis or some sort of bone loss, you want to make sure that you take into account the following precautions. Your body just isn't like it was when you were younger, and you have to be very careful about the exercises you perform, the strength of the exercises, how often your exercise, and your overall workout routine.

If you already have osteoporosis, it is more beneficial to you to hire a professional trainer. You may have to go to a rehabilitation center for physical therapy and weight training exercises in order to ensure that you are not causing more damage to your body.

If you suffer spinal osteoporosis, you want to keep your weights at 20 to 25 pounds. When exercising, it's a good idea to keep your arms close to your body, especially when lifting weights. You should also avoid exercises that call for twisting around and bending forward; keep your back straight for any exercise that requires movement and any spinal strain, such as squats and leg presses.

If you suffer hip osteoporosis, there aren't as many cautions in regards to weight limits and types of movement, but you do want to be careful to avoid exercises that may cause you to lose your balance.

Do not overexert yourself, as you can do more damage than good, and do not expect overnight results, but with time, you will start to notice a change.

Supplement your Diet

If you have osteoporosis or you're trying to prevent your bone density from lessening, it is important to exercise and perform weight training exercises. But, you also want to make sure that you are best supplementing your diet, as this is just as important.

You want to make sure that you have plenty of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K.

Make sure that you consume plenty of calcium-rich foods, green vegetables, and get plenty of sunlight (use proper sunscreen to ensure that you don't get sun burn).

Exercises for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis: An Exercise Guide
Osteoporosis: An Exercise Guide

Simple guide to help fight against osteoporosis and low bone mass. Find safe ways to perform daily activities.

Exercises for Osteoporosis: A Safe and Effective Way to Build Bone Density and Muscle Strength, Revised Edition
Exercises for Osteoporosis: A Safe and Effective Way to Build Bone Density and Muscle Strength, Revised Edition

This book features many pictures for easy to understand exercises for the neck, hips, back, arms, and legs, as well as exercises to help balance.

The Osteoporosis Exercise Book: Building Better Bones, 2nd Edition
The Osteoporosis Exercise Book: Building Better Bones, 2nd Edition

Find exercises that you can use to help you build bone density in the spine and hips, so that you can move better, improve your posture and balance, flexibility, and mobility. You will also learn how to avoid movements that increase the risk of fracture.

Exercises for Osteoporosis, Third Edition: A Safe and Effective Way to Build Bone Density and Muscle Strength and Improve Posture and Flexibility
Exercises for Osteoporosis, Third Edition: A Safe and Effective Way to Build Bone Density and Muscle Strength and Improve Posture and Flexibility

Learn exercises to help bone density in problem areas such as hips, spine, wrists, and ankles. Also learn how to improve your balance and flexibility to help prevent falls and fractures.

Osteopilates: Increase Bone Density, Reduce Fracture Risk, Look and Feel Great
Osteopilates: Increase Bone Density, Reduce Fracture Risk, Look and Feel Great

Find safe movements for those with osteoporosis. They will help improve your health and reduce your risk of injury or fracture.


Osteoporosis Exercise DVD

Skeletal Fitness: A Workout For Your Bones - Bone Loading Exercises To Prevent Osteoporosis
Skeletal Fitness: A Workout For Your Bones - Bone Loading Exercises To Prevent Osteoporosis

Learn resistance exercises that target the spine, hips, and wrists.

Pilates Exercises for Osteoporosis
Pilates Exercises for Osteoporosis

Pilates Exercises for Osteoporosis DVD was designed by physical therapist to help you incorporate safe Pilates exercises into your bone building program.

Tai Chi for Osteoporosis
Tai Chi for Osteoporosis

Help improve your mental and physical health by using Tai Chi.

Arthritis Exercise DVD (2 Lightweight Balls Included)
Arthritis Exercise DVD (2 Lightweight Balls Included)

Follow these exercises to help improve your strength and balance to prevent falling and fracturing a bone.


Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed physician. If you have any questions, please consult a doctor so that you can discuss exercises and how to try to reverse your osteoporosis and improve your bone density.


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    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 6 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      Great article. I will link my article to this one for more information on the exercise part.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Hi Whitney. I saw a question posted a while ago by someone looking for a workout for osteoporosis. I was looking for the question to post a link for a workout video and routine and came across your hub. It looks like you covered the topic nicely, and it came right up when I searched osteoporosis. Nice job!

    • Dale Michaels profile image

      Dale Michaels 7 years ago from Guangzhou, China

      Great Hub Whitney. I have personally written a couple of articles on this subject in the past and agree with you 100%.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Wonderful article! The muscles are so often overlooked - even by the professional medical personnel. Excellent advice.

      If water exercise is an option, check out adding resistance training or target toning.

      Swim fitness is a great fit for many people - helps the muscles, cardio and the spirit loves it!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Fab Hub, being a vegan I'm always on the calcium alert. I lift weights and love yoga so this was very affirming to me. I'm grateful to your powerful report on the subject. Thanks and Peace :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent advice, Whitney. Over one million people every year, mostly women, suffer bone fractures due to either osteoporosis or osteopenia - its precursor.

      You perform a very valuable service with this hub.