Exercise for Osteoporosis ABC Radio Interview

Exercise for Osteoporosis ABC radio interview with Jen Fleming and Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist 17 January 2013. The following exercise for osteoporosis Physiotherapist information osteoporosis exerciseincludes:

  1. Weight bearing exercise for osteoporosis
  2. Resistance training exercise for osteoporosis
  3. Falls reduction exercise for osteoporosis
  4. Hip and spine strength exercises from this ABC interview and osteoporosis exercises to watch now
  5. Where to find more information and exercise for osteoporosis.

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Exercise for Osteoporosis

Bone is living tissue and is constantly being remodelled in your body. Exercise for stronger bones needs to be appropriate bone loading exercise. Bone loading exercises stimulate bone remodelling new bone growth can be promoted. If bones are not loaded, for example with prolonged bed rest, bone tissue is resorbed by the body and bones become thinner and weaken.

There are 2 main types of exercise that load bones to improve or maintain bone density:

1. Weight Bearing Exercises

osteoporosis exerciseExercises that involve weight bearing through your feet that create something called a ‘ground reaction force’. When your heel strikes the ground, a force is actually transmitted back through your bones from the ground. If the force is sufficient to load your bones, it can improve bone health.

Weight bearing exercises that are known to load bones and promote bone density include:

  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Tennis
  • Hopping
  • Skipping
  • Jumping
  • Brisk walking

A variety of weight bearing exercises for bone health should be performed regularly (at least 3-5 times a week for healthy adults). These exercises can be gradually progressed over time to increase physical challenge and optimize the loading of bones (e.g. degree of difficulty, height of jumps).

These moderate to high impact exercises listed above are not suitable to individuals with a high risk of osteoporosis – related fracture. If this applies to you, speak with your doctor or physiotherapist about appropriate lower impact weight bearing exercises for your bone health.

Unfortunately some common place exercises won’t load bones sufficiently to improve bone density despite their wonderful benefits including cardiovascular health and fitness. Exercises such a leisurely walking, swimming or cycling will not increase your bone density however they may be included in a bone health program to strengthen legs, reduce the risk of falls and help bone fracture rehabilitation.

2. Resistance Exercises

Osteoporosis resistance exercisesResistance exercises are specific exercises that involve using your muscles against a load. When your muscles contract against resistance, they exert a force upon your bones in and around where the muscles attach. If the load is sufficient, then bones can strengthen and thicken in response.

Resistance Exercise for bone health in healthy adults should be:

  • Regular for ongoing stimulus for bone remodelling (2-3 alternate days a week)
  • Specific to the particular areas of the body that are most ‘at risk’ of osteoporosis fracture (i.e. hips, spine, pelvis, upper arms and wrists. It is important to exercise these areas of the body since resistance training benefits are specific to those areas exercised for example hip bone strength will be promoted by exercising the muscles around the hip joint
  • Include exercises for the hip, knee, spine and forearm muscle groups of the body with a special focus upon postural muscles, spinal extensors and deep abdominal core stabilising muscles.
  • Sufficient to load bones with emphasis upon safe bone loading using appropriate levels of resistance and good lifting technique. An initial period of low loading familiarisation with resistance exercises precedes bone loading exercise with approximately 2 sets of 8-10 repetitions of increasingly heavier loads.
  • Regularly progressed over time to provide continued stimulus for new bone growth.

Resistance exercise for osteoporosis, if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis should be prescribed by a Physiotherapist based upon an individual assessment of your risks and needs.

3. Exercises to Reduce Falls

Falls are a very common cause of fracture in osteoporosis. The risk of falls increases along with the risk of osteoporosis with increasing age. Falls prevention programs should include exercises to help reduce the risk of falls, especially in individuals with increased risk of osteoporosis-related fracture.

Exercises to prevent falls in osteoporosis include:

  • Specific and progressive balance exercises e.g. standing on one leg, heel to toe walking, raising onto the balls of the feet (calf raises), standing eyes closed. These exercises should be supervised and progressed by a Physiotherapist in individuals with poor balance or established osteoporosis.
  • Calf stretching exercises since tight and shortened calf muscles can cause falls
  • Leg strengthening exercises to improve balance
  • Tai Chi

Exercises to Avoid With OsteoporosisOsteoporosis exercises to avoid

  • High impact weight bearing exercises e.g. jumping
  • Sudden explosive exercises
  • Spinal twisting exercises e.g. golf
  • Dynamic abdominal exercises e.g. sit ups, double leg raise exercises
  • Trunk bending exercises e.g. leaning forward at the hips and lifting, leg press in the gym
  • Lifting greater than 10kg in established osteoporosis

Exercise for Osteoporosis From Radio Interview to Watch Now

For More Information About Exercise for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Exercise DVDMore information about osteoporosis exercises is available from:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support.

We Welcome Your Comments



  1. Kathryn Beckingsale says

    I am currently on Actonel having had a few vertebrae fractures over the last 2 years. I would love to be more proactive and help myself with exercises. Can you recommend classes for me in Brisbane. I am 60 years old. Kind regards Kathryn

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Kathryn

      Yes you have a couple of options for Bone Health exercise programs in Brisbane. I conduct bone health exercise classes at Healthy Fit Physio in Cleveland. The contact details are on the QLD directory listing. I understand that Physiotherapist Megan Lowry also conducts bone health exercise programs closer to the city at Windsor – you will find her details on the same directory page.

      Hope this helps



    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Renee
      This is where you need to be very careful as many exercises advised for osteoporosis such as the high impact exercises, and heavy strength training are not appropriate for women with pelvic prolapse. I really need to write a post on osteoporosis and prolapse exercise! With both women should keep exercise low impact (brisk walking is usually ideal) as well as modified strength training exercises as outlined in Inside Out DVD

      Vacuum is an interesting question – if you are a commercial cleaner carrying a heavy vacuum on your back all day, then I would think that this could increase the load on your pelvic prolapse. If you vacuum a small area once or twice a week using a push-style vacuum then there would be much less impact on your pelvic floor so different factors come into play. Some women with severe prolapse may find that they can’t vacuum the whole house in one go as their symptoms become too troublesome, so they split the task up over a number of days.

      The weight any woman can safely lift or the exercises she does with a stretching band is ultimately determined by the capacity of her pelvic floor. Most women find that 2lb weights are quite manageable, the key is to never strain with resistance exercises.

      • what do you mean by the capacity of your pelvic floor? Can you use stretching bands for upper body workout ( tone arms)?

        • Michelle Kenway says

          Hi Renee
          The capacity of your pelvic floor means how strong and well functioning it is to support your pelvic organs and keep you continent. Stretching bands are a great form of resistance training but like any type of resistance work there are pelvic floor safe resistance band exercises, and those that are not so pelvic floor friendly. So, it will depend on the type of band exercise you do, the position you do your exercises in, along with how well your pelvic floor is functioning. Maybe let me know which band exercises you are considering and I can tell you about those exercises.

  3. Hi Michelle

    I recieved your exercise DVD called Bone Fit for Beginners today and did the class at lunch time. It was fantastic. I feel great and excited about finally being proactive about managing my bone health. My family has a history of osteoporosis and I am now on the wrong side of forty, so that puts me in the high risk group.
    Thanks again for the info and the DVD, I’m now off to have a glass of milk and catch some vitamin D.
    Kind regards

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Thanks so much for your feedback Pauline! So glad you enjoyed your exercises and that you are being proactive, keep up the good work! Michelle

  4. Diane Ryan says

    Michelle, I am interested in attending an exercise class to build my bones. You mentioned in the radio interview on ABC that you run such a class in Brisbane. Are there other classes in other parts of Australia? I am particularly interested in any which are in the Newcastle NSW area. I have osteopenia. Thank you.

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Diane
      I think the best way of finding bone health classes in Newcastle wil be to contact the Australian Physiotherapy Association in NSW by phoning them. Here are the contact details for NSW branch of the APA. Hope this helps you along! Michelle
      p: (+612) 8748 1555
      f: (+612) 9647 2244
      e: nsw.branch@physiotherapy.asn.au
      Unit 5, 77 Parramatta Road, Silverwater, NSW 2128

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