Exercising with osteoporosis

An osteoporosis diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to stop exercising or taking part in the activities you enjoy.

Although physical activity can be daunting with a high risk of fracture, maintaining an active lifestyle is important for your long-term health and wellbeing, and is particularly important for people who have broken a bone because of osteoporosis.

The term ‘active lifestyle’ means enjoying a variety of physical activities throughout the day that keep you on the move. These may include sport or leisure activities such as ballroom dancing or gardening, as well as necessary activities, such as housework and shopping. It can be as simple as climbing the stairs regularly or taking short, regular walks.

Research has shown that you are never too old to start reaping the rewards of being more active. You can adopt a more active lifestyle at any age, provided you begin with familiar activities that you enjoy, are safe for your health and risk of fracture, and that you progress at an appropriate pace. If you are at high risk of breaking a bone, there are certain activities that you should try to avoid.

Suitable physical activity has been shown to:

  • Decrease the risk of falls and further fractures
  • Improve balance
  • Improve muscle strength and stamina
  • Improve posture
  • Reduce pain
  • Maintain and possibly improve bone strength

Exercising safely with osteoporosis

Finding a safe balance between looking after your health and not ‘wrapping yourself in cotton wool’ can be a challenge.

Generally speaking, if you have a low bone density, but are otherwise fit and healthy and have never easily broken a bone – including compression fractures in the spine – then your risk of fracture may not be very high and you may not need to moderate your exercise levels. In fact, in some situations you may be advised to increase the exercise you do.

If, however, you have a high fracture risk and particularly if you have had fragility fractures already - including compression fractures in the spine - sudden new high-impact exercise such as jogging and jumping are not likely to be recommended.

Finding the right exercises and activities for you

Exercise advice needs to be tailored to your own situation.

Determining exactly how strong your bones are isn’t easy. The results of a bone density scan are best-considered alongside other risk factors you may have. It is recommended that you discuss your option with your doctor or physiotherapist.

You can find exercise advice to suit your personal risk of breaking a bone in our exercise and osteoporosis booklet. Alternatively, call our free osteoporosis Helpline to talk through your situation with one of our specialist nurses.

Download the exercise and osteoporosis booklet

Exercise to avoid with osteoporosis

Some forms of exercise may increase your risk of breaking a bone and may not be suitable for people already at high risk of fracture.

Select an option below to find out more.

  • High-impact, fast-moving exercises
  • Bending forward or twisting the waist