5 Types of Exercise You Shouldn’t Do If You Have Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and exercise

Are you wondering what exercises are safe if you have osteoporosis? Everyone needs exercise to avoid muscle loss, further bone loss, and frailty, but you might wonder what exercises you should avoid if you have documented osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak and break easily. Bones become less dense and porous, and their ability to withstand stress and pressure decreases. Anyone can get osteoporosis; however, some people are at higher risk than others. Osteoporosis often starts a decade or two after menopause or surgical removal of the ovaries, but it can also affect pre-menopausal women. It is one of the most common medical problems among postmenopausal women.

Other than being female, risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • White or Asian ethnicity
  • Small bones or thin stature
  • Early menopause
  • Late start of menstruation
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Lack of exercise
  • Use of tobacco
  • Overuse of alcohol
  • Use of certain medications, like steroids, anti-seizure medications
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Exercise during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood helps lower the risk of osteoporosis since it allows you to maximize bone density while your bones are still primed to go. Therefore, you have more bone on your frame, even if you lose some as you age. The more you start with, the better. That’s why exercise early in life is so important.

Types of Exercise You Should Avoid with Osteoporosis

You should always consult with your physician about what exercise to do and not do if you have osteoporosis, but here are some general guidelines for exercising safely if you have osteoporosis.

 Avoid High-Impact Exercise

High-impact exercises are movements where both feet come off the ground. So, running and jumping are high-impact exercises, while cycling is not. Swimming is another form of low-impact exercise that experts recommend for people with osteoporosis.

The drawback of low-impact exercise is that it doesn’t stimulate bone growth. So, if you don’t have osteoporosis, including some high-impact exercise in your fitness routine in moderation is beneficial. But if you have osteoporosis, avoid exercises that involve running or jumping, unless your physician gives the okay.

You might wonder how to get a cardiovascular workout without jumping or running. Cycling and swimming are options, but brisk walking and stair climbing are other options. Climbing stairs will elevate your heart rate and work your glutes too.

Avoid Exercises Where You Bend at the Waist

If you have significant osteoporosis, avoid doing movements where you bend at the waist. The force of bending at the waist can lead to spinal compression fractures if you have osteoporosis of the spine. Compression fractures of the vertebrae are caused by weakening bones, which can ultimately lead to their collapse. There might even be more than one vertebra that collapses, resulting in a compression deformity. They’re common in people with osteoporosis.

Exercises like toe touches and sit-ups are off the table if you have significant osteoporosis, but also ab curls, crunches, reverse crunches, and bilateral leg raises. A standard plank is a safer alternative for working your core and abs since it doesn’t involve flexing at the waist. Stick with exercises that work the muscles you’re trying to work in a way that doesn’t require bending over.

Avoid Exercises Where You Twist Your Body

Exercise that involves twisting your body also places added force on your spine and can lead to spinal compression fractures. Examples include Russian twists, windmills, and bicycle crunches. But you might also have to avoid playing sports that require twisting your body, like tennis, skiing, golf, and baseball.

Avoid Jerky Movements When You Train

If you have osteoporosis, avoid movements where you jerk your body or make sudden movements. Always keep your movements slow and controlled, and use correct form. Everyone should do that but it’s even more important if you have osteoporosis.

Certain Yoga Poses

As relaxing as yoga is, some poses are risky if you have osteoporosis. Ones to avoid include those that involve:

  • Twisting movements
  • Forward folds
  • Core poses
  • Those that involve jumping
  • Any poses that require you to rotate, twist your body, or flex your spine

What about Strength Training?

Strength training can be safe and effective if you have osteoporosis, as long as you avoid twisting and flexing at the waist. Good form is crucial too. It’s important to work with lighter weights until you’ve mastered the technique and can do the exercises without rounding your back. The benefit of strength training is it will help slow further bone loss. Plus, strengthening your core muscles will help you achieve better body alignment.

It’s also a good idea to include exercises in your routine that will help you develop better balance to avoid falling and fracturing a hip. Why is avoiding falls so important? A hip fracture can be a life-changing complication of osteoporosis. Almost half of people with osteoporosis who fracture a hip will have a disability or lower quality of life, and 20% will die of complications from the hip fracture. A 2017 study found older men and women who did Tai Chi sessions for 26 weeks reduced their risk of falling by 43%.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is important for everyone, and it’s possible to get a safe and effective workout with osteoporosis if you choose the right exercises, use good form, and avoid twisting, bending, or jerking. Keep moving your body but do it safely!


  • “Osteoporosis | National Institute on Aging.” 26 Jun. 2017, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/osteoporosis.
  • “Osteoporosis – Symptoms and Causes – Mayo Clinic.” 21 Aug. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968.
  • “Osteoporosis | National Institute on Aging.” 26 Jun. 2017, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/osteoporosis.
  • Benedetti MG, Furlini G, Zati A, Letizia Mauro G. The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Dec 23;2018:4840531. doi: 10.1155/2018/4840531. PMID: 30671455; PMCID: PMC6323511.
  • Osnes EK, Lofthus CM, Meyer HE, Falch JA, Nordsletten L, Cappelen I, Kristiansen IS. Consequences of hip fracture on activities of daily life and residential needs. Osteoporos Int. 2004 Jul;15(7):567-74. doi: 10.1007/s00198-003-1583-0. PMID: 14730422.
  • “Protect your bones with tai chi – Harvard Health.” 01 Oct. 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/protect-your-bones-with-tai-chi.

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