Osteoporosis Exercise Plan

Table of Contents

Osteoporosis Exercise Plan

Welcome to the osteoporosis exercise plan for Exercise for Better Bones — my book on safe and effective exercise for individuals with osteoporosis, osteopenia or low bone density. You will find the resources you need to build stronger bones and reduce your fracture risk.

We start with where to find my book, Exercise for Better Bones, and then show you how to access the exercise schedules for your level, and where you can locate the exercise video demonstrations. 

I have listed the posts on this site that describe the individual exercises in detail. However, I recommend you use the book, either the print or Kindle versions, to guide you through the program.

The individuals post will supplement the exercises in the book. In most of the postings I have included the video demonstration and a description of the exercises — in many cases using the transcription from the video or a detailed account of the exercise.

Later in the page, I cover exercise guidelines for individuals with osteoporosis. Let’s get started with where you can purchase Exercise for Better Bones.

osteoporosis exercise plan by melioguide

Exercise for Better Bones

You can purchase your own copy of Exercise for Better Bones in either print or Kindle format at Amazon.

Exercise for Better Bones Resources

Once you have the book, Exercise for Better Bones, put aside some time to read the introductory chapters. You will learn some very important osteoporosis exercise basics and determine the right exercise level for you.

Once you have determined your exercise level, you can download your exercise plan and access all of the other Exercise for Better Bones resources in our Resources section.

Periodically we update our exercise schedules and other resources to reflect new developments in the treatment of osteoporosis. By signing up for your free account, you will be kept up-to-date on any changes we make. To create your account, all you need is an email address. No credit card or personal information required.

Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis

Exercise is an essential ingredient to bone health. If you have osteoporosis, therapeutic exercise needs to be part of your osteoporosis treatment program.

But what exercises should you do and which ones should you avoid? What exercises build bone and which ones reduce your chance of a fracture? Is Yoga good for your bones? Who should you trust when it comes to exercises for osteoporosis?

A great resource on exercise and osteoporosis is my free, seven day email course called Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis. After you provide your email address, you will receive seven consecutive online educational videos on bone health — one lesson each day. You can look at the videos at anytime and as often as you like.

I cover important topics related to osteoporosis exercise including:

  • Can exercise reverse osteoporosis?
  • Stop the stoop — how to avoid kyphosis and rounded shoulders.
  • Key components of an osteoporosis exercise program.
  • Key principles of bone building.
  • Exercises you should avoid if you have osteoporosis.
  • Yoga and osteoporosis — should you practice yoga if you have osteoporosis?
  • Core strength and osteoporosis — why is core strength important if you have osteoporosis?

Enter your email address and I will start you on this free course. I do not SPAM or share your email address (or any information) with third parties. You can unsubscribe from my mail list at any time.

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Tips and Suggestions

osteoporosis exercise plan

Strength Training for Osteoporosis Guide

I encourage clients and customers to read my Strength Training for Osteoporosis Guide. It will help you with your Exercise for Better Bones program.

Osteoporosis Exercise Plan Videos

This section includes the individual posts on this site with exercises from the Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan. The posts are organized by level and class of exercise. The Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan includes all of the exercise details and workout schedules for each level.

Here are several general education videos before you start your Exercise for Better Bones program:

  1. What is a Set and a Rep in Exercise for Better Bones?
  2. One Rep Training Max Calculator

Exercise for Better Bones (Beginner)

The Beginner Level warm up and strength exercise posts.

  1. Energy Tree • Warmup 1
  2. Curtsy Lunges • Warmup 2
  3. Marching in Place • Warmup 3
  4. Squats with Ball Against Wall (with Burst Resistant Stability Ball)
  5. Reverse Fly Exercise
  6. Reverse Lunge
  7. Horse Stance Exercise • Vertical
  8. Physical Therapy Bridge Exercise • Beginner
  9. Bow and Arrow Exercise
  10. Alternating Leg Lifts in Prone Position
  11. Side Lying Leg Lift • Side Leg Lifts
  12. Angels in the Snow
  13. Push Ups Variations • Wall Push Ups
  14. Bicep Curl Variations • Standing Biceps Curl
  15. Tricep Extensions • Supine Tricep Extension • Beginner
  16. Heel Drop Exercise
  17. Abdominal Exercises for Osteoporosis • Beginner Level

Beginner Level Exercise Playlist YouTube

The full playlist of the Beginner Level exercises can be found here on my YouTube channel.

Exercise for Better Bones Videos

If you prefer not to use YouTube to review the Exercise for Better Bones videos, I have created an updated set of exercise videos for purchase on my site. Click the button below to learn more.

Active Level Exercise Playlist YouTube

The full playlist of the Active Level exercises can be found here on my YouTube channel.

Exercise for Better Bones Videos

If you prefer not to use YouTube to review the Exercise for Better Bones videos, I have created an updated set of exercise videos for purchase on my site. Click the button below to learn more.

Athletic Level Exercise Playlist YouTube

The full playlist of the Athletic Level exercises can be found here on my YouTube channel.

Exercise for Better Bones Videos

If you prefer not to use YouTube to review the Exercise for Better Bones videos, I have created an updated set of exercise videos for purchase on my site. Click the button below to learn more.

Elite Level Exercise Playlist YouTube

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Exercise for Better Bones Videos

If you prefer not to use YouTube to review the Exercise for Better Bones videos, I have created an updated set of exercise videos for purchase on my site. Click the button below to learn more.

Osteoporosis Exercise Plan • Contraindications

I have prepared a detail blog post on osteoporosis exercise contraindications in which I cover exercises to avoid with osteoporosis. Consider these to be an important part of your osteoporosis exercise plan.

Weight Bearing and Cardiovascular Exercise

You build bone with weight bearing activities and exercises. In this section I touch on several weight bearing exercises (part of any osteoporosis exercise plan). In the Exercise for Better Bones program, I describe more weight bearing exercises you can do based on your assigned exercise level (based on fracture risk and activity level).

  1. Rowing Machine Form
  2. Is the The Elliptical a Weight Bearing Exercise
  3. Clock Lunges
  4. What Effect Does Regular Weight Bearing Have on Joints
  5. Best Exercise Equipment for Osteoporosis
  6. Running and Osteoporosis
  7. Guide to Nordic Walking
  8. Aerobic Exercise for Seniors

Weight Bearing for Osteoporosis Guide

I encourage clients and customers to read my Weight Bearing for Osteoporosis Guide. It will help you with your Exercise for Better Bones program.

Osteoporosis Exercise Plan • Guidelines

How does the Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan compare to the guidelines provided by leading organizations? The MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise plan meets and even exceeds the guidelines provided by Osteoporosis Canada and the National Osteoporosis Foundation

I am pleased to say that the published guidelines from these two organizations agree with the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones osteoporosis exercise program. The main difference between the guidelines published by Osteoporosis Canada and the NOF and the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones Program is that the MelioGuide is more specific about the exercise by fracture risk and activity level.

Hi, I’m Margaret Martin at MelioGuide, and as you can tell, it’s fall, and so I thought, before the snow starts to fall, I’d share with you some important guidelines that actually came about this summer.

Osteoporosis Canada and the National Osteoporosis Foundation

Releases that came from the top organizations on osteoporosis in both Canada and the U.S., so Osteoporosis Canada and the National Osteoporosis Foundation, both of which chose the summer of 2014 to release their exercise guidelines, where they give specifics on strength training, on posture, on weight-bearing, on balance.

I’m really excited to say that here at MelioGuide, we’ve had those same guidelines for the last seven years, and so, you now have, as listeners, the added reassurance that these big organizations are following the MelioGuide guidelines.

The difference being is that here at MelioGuide, those of you who have gone into the osteoporosis exercise plan programs, or worked with me individually, or have spoken to me by the phone through consultation, you know that we also look here at MelioGuide at your activity level at your start, as well as your fracture risk.

osteoporosis exercise guidelines

Published Osteoporosis Exercise Guidelines

  1. Osteoporosis Canada
  2. National Osteoporosis Foundation

Osteoporosis Exercise Plan • Intensity Level Guidelines

In this section, I discuss recent research on recommended exercise intensity levels for women with osteoporosis and specifically how it affects their osteoporosis exercise plan.

A recent study shows that age does not affect exercise intensity among women and this has significant implications for exercise for women with osteoporosis.

Should you modify an exercise program for a woman based on her age? As a woman gets older, should you expect her to make less progress and achieve smaller increments than a younger woman? Should a woman with osteoporosis follow an osteoporosis exercise plan? Should she modify her program? Will she see the same exercise results and progress as a younger woman?

Age Does Not Affect Exercise Intensity

A new study published in this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (1) has demonstrated that healthy women who have not had prior training can exercise safely and improve their heart and muscle strength at any age.

The study was conducted “to examine the possible influences of age on exercise intensity progression in healthy women” by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo.

Exercise for Women With Osteoporosis

Quite a few of my clients are “Fifty Plus Women” who live independent, productive and active lives and want to stay that way as they move forward in life. They want to be Fit Past Fifty.

I also have young athletes (often the children of the “50 Plus Women”) who want conditioning programs. Generally, I provide exercise programs and establish fitness goals for both groups that are very similar. I have seen results similar to those determined by the authors of the research study.

Can women with osteoporosis or low bone density expect similar results? Should their exercise programs be modified to account for the fragility of their bones?

I believe that exercise is essential to someone with osteoporosis. When done properly, it improves the quality of bone — thereby strengthening the bone and making it more resistant to fracture. Further, a well designed exercise program improves balance, flexibility and body awareness — all essential to fall reduction and overall well being.

I work with many clients who have osteoporosis or low bone density and develop exercise programs that are safe for their bones and allow them to attain their fitness goals. These programs are part of the MelioGuide Exercise for Better Bones Program for clients and are all part of the Building Better Bones training program for Health care professionals.

Study Summary

Two groups of women underwent 13 weeks of exercise training. They both followed the same exercise program and results documented and recorded during the study period. The two study groups were:

  1. Seventeen young women (29.1 years old, plus or minus 5.7 years)
  2. Sixteen older women (64.5 years old, plus or minus 4.5 years old)

The 13 week exercise program (for both groups) consisted of :

  • Stationary cycling (known as cycle ergometry)
  • Whole body resistance training. Specific exercises included bench press, leg press, seated row, knee curl, shoulder press, calf raise, triceps push-down, bicep curls, and abdominal exercises.
  • Stretching exercises

The exercise program for women was designed to develop aerobic capacity, muscle mass and strength, and flexibility and was performed twice a week during the 13 week study period on all participants. The exercise intensity of the aerobic and resistance training was increased whenever an individual displayed improved performance.


A comparison of the progressions across all of the individual exercises between the two groups was not significantly different – meaning that the performance improvement of the older group was not that different than that of the younger group.


I believe that the implications of this study are very significant for women with osteoporosis. They should expect that they can make significant progress in their overall fitness, reduce their fall risk and improve their bone health – provided they follow a safe and effective exercise program for osteoporosis.


  1. Ciolac, EG et al. (2010) Age Does Not Affect Exercise Intensity Progression Among Women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Vol 24, Number 11: 3023-3031.

Is Exercise the Path to Strong Bones?

On April 1 of this year, the New York Times published an article titled “Exercise is not the Path to Strong Bones”.

What? Could this be true or is this an April Fool’s prank? I am not sure what the Times was thinking when they put this out. Quite a few confused clients and readers contacted me to see if the was some new science indicating that exercise was not the path to stronger bones. Here is my response to that article:

Hi, I’m Margaret, your MelioGuide, and I’ve been asked by readers to comment on a recent article that came out on April 1, 2016 in the New York Times. The author was Gina Kolata and the title of the article was “Exercise Is Not the Path to Strong Bones.”

Being April 1, I thought maybe this was a bit of an April Fools, but then I realized, when there was a rebuttal five days later, and I didn’t hear anything else on the New York Times, that it wasn’t a joke.

A couple of things that really bothered me with Gina’s article. So there’s three key points here.

Point #1 — Bone Density or Bone Quality?

She talks about the low change in bone mass with studies that looked at bone through bone density DEXA scores. It is true in that over the years, many studies looked at bone change just looking at DEXAs.

The more recent way of looking at bone is through a peripheral quantitative computed tomography test, looking at the quality of bones. Many of you have followed my blogs and know that I talk a lot about bone quality and not just bone density, because strength of bone is a combination of both, and exercise impacts the quality of bone more than just the density of bone. That’s really critical.

Point #2 — Does 1% Matter?

Alex Hutchinson in his article, his rebuttal, in Runners World titled “Is Weight-Bearing Exercise Really Useless for Bone Strength? Contrary to reports, exercise does matter for long-term bone health,” and he actually makes a really good point.

He looks at that 1% that Gina pushes off as being insignificant. We know that 1% loss or 1% gain is significant.

Even in the short time span of a year, losing 1% is very significant when you think of the lifetime of your bones. We’re looking at losing 1% a year after you reach peak bone mass. That’s somewhere, for some people, between the ages of 25 and 30. We know for women who go through menopause, that bone loss even accelerates with menopause. Maintaining bone or gaining bone at rate of 1% is so significant.

With more recent studies, when we look at the quality of bone and they look at a meta-analysis and they look at numerous studies, they can find bone changes happening in the order close to 1% in just 13 weeks. So that’s super exciting. That’s looking at number one, that the difference between bone density and bone quality and how it’s measured.

The Pharmaceutical Option

Gina also talks about drugs in her article, the pharmaceuticals, and she talks about very strong pharmaceuticals, the brand name being Prolia. But it is also very expensive, in the order of, in Canada, $450 a shot. Prolia is administered every six months.

It’s something that’s done for 18 months to 2 years. And then followed up with a bisphosphonate, which is another pharmaceutical that she blows off in her article.

For some people, these drugs are important, but for most people they’re not necessary and they come with numerous side effects, unlike exercise, that the only side effects are positive.

Point #3 — Type of Exercise

Now, Alex brings up a good point in his article in regards to the differences of exercise.

Not all exercise is created equal. Cyclists don’t have as good bones as runners and distance runners don’t have as good bones as short distance runners.

People that lift heavier objects have better bones than people that do lighter endurance type lifting.

We have to look beyond exercise as one big term and consider the type of exercise, how intense that exercise is, how appropriate it is for you, and the intelligence of the exercise that’s chosen.

That’s why in the Exercise for Better Bones, I cover the flexibility in a safe and effective way. I cover balance exercises, strength exercises, and I cover all the different cardiovascular choices you have based on your fracture risk.

We’re not all created equal. The challenge that the 60-year-old that walks into my clinic has hasn’t exercised in a year, her challenge level is going to be very different than the 45-year-old who’s coming off of doing 10 Ks and looking to build her upper body strength and build bone through her spine.

Should You Exercise?

When I see articles like what came up in the New York Times, it just really frustrates me because I get people going, “Well, should I still exercise? Is exercise still helpful?” Absolutely, it is, because exercise is what’s going to make the difference between growing old with good quality of life. It’s going to make the difference of, “Oh, I can go on a holiday. I can easily pick up my bags. I’m pain-free. I’m enjoying life. I don’t worry about how I interact with my grandchildren. I’m not thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to break another bone.'” Exercise is going to make a difference in your life beyond just that 1%. And that 1% is so very important.

That’s all I’m going to rant on today. Thank you for tuning in. Margaret from MelioGuide.


  1. Gina Kolata, Exercise is not the Path to Strong Bones. NY Times April 1st, 2016
  2. Alex Hutchinson, Is Weight-Bearing Exercise Really Useless for Bone Strength? Contrary to reports, exercise does matter for long-term bone health. Runner’s World April 5th, 2016
  3. Evans RK et al. Peripheral QCT sector analysis reveals early exercise-induced increases in tibial bone mineral density. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2012 Sep;12(3):155-64.
  4. Polidoulis I, Beyene J, Cheung AM. The effect of exercise on pQCT parameters of bone structure and strength in postmenopausal women–a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Osteoporos Int. 2012 Jan;23(1):39-51.

Osteoporosis Guidelines

The osteoporosis exercise plan listed on this page is based on the Osteoporosis Guidelines I have described on this website.

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