Exercising With Osteoporosis: A No-Twist Workout to Try

By Elizabeth Millard, C.P.T., R.Y.T. |

If you have weak or brittle bones, twisting and other movements are often off limits. But with the right exercises you can still get an effective workout.

senior woman exercising at home for a story on exercising with osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle, which raises the risk of breaks and fractures. Regular exercise helps fend off bone weakness as you grow older. But it also plays a key role in helping to shore up bone density in people with osteoporosis.

The key is choosing the right movements. Weight-bearing exercise like brisk walking and stair climbing can make your bones stronger, even if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Strength-training moves like hand weights and resistance bands help too.

But there's a catch: Some movements put more stress on the spine, which can lead to fractures in those with osteoporosis. Twisting and bending at the waist are of top concern, the Mayo Clinic reports. While almost no one will miss doing sit-ups or toe touches, heading out for a round of golf, a pickleball match, or even a friendly bowling game may be off the table.

According to Mayo Clinic, bending forward at the waist and twisting at the waist can increase pressure in the spine, which can lead to fractures. That means exercises like sit-ups, touching your toes, or certain yoga poses are off the table if you have osteoporosis, as well as activities that require you to twist forcefully, such as golf and tennis. High-impact exercise like running or jump-roping is also discouraged.

Turning into a couch potato clearly isn't the answer. Enter low-impact, no-twist workouts like the one below.

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How to Use the No-Twist Workout

This routine features controlled movements with a focus on strength training, which helps improve both bone density and posture. There’s also an element of cardio exercise, to get your heart rate up to boost endurance.

Aim to do this workout two to three times a week. It will help protect your joints and bones, while still giving your body ample benefits.

Safety is key. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program. Los ejercicios aquí podrían ser distintos o más avanzados que los de que aplicará en una clase SilverSneakers. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis and arthritis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Listen to your body: It’s great to feel a sense of challenge, but any kind of pain or discomfort is a sign to dial back your intensity or modify the move.

What you need:

  • Space to move
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Light weights (optional)
  • Sturdy chair
  • Water to sip, as needed

Recommended reading: How to Exercise for Osteoporosis: 4 Rules to Follow


Begin by marching in place for 1 to 2 minutes. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out. Hold on to the back of your chair for support, if needed.

Standing Shoulder Flexion

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
  • Brace your core and raise your arms up and out in front of you, as high as you comfortably can.
  • Return to starting position and repeat 10 times.

Shoulder Rolls Forward and Back

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
  • Brace your core and roll your shoulders up, back, and down.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Switch and roll your shoulders up, forward, and down.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Y-T-W Stretch

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
  • Brace your core and raise your arms up and out to the sides so your body forms the letter Y. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  • Lower your hands in front of your chest, then pull your arms out to the sides so your body forms the letter T. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  • Bring your hands back together in front of your chest, then bend your elbows and pull your arms back out to the sides to form the letter W. (Your arms will look as if they're making the shape of a goal post.) Again, squeeze your shoulder blades together to complete the movement.
  • Repeat the sequence 10 times.

Cardio and Strength Segment

V-Step with Push and Pull Arms

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your arms bent, fists in front of your chest.
  • Brace your core and step forward in a wide V step, right foot, then left foot. Quickly return your feet back to the starting position. When you step out again, this time lead with your left foot. (Move as quickly as you can with good form and balance.) If it helps, say to yourself, Out, out, in, in.
  • When you’re comfortable with the foot pattern, add the arm movement: Punch out with the right arm as your right foot goes out; punch left as your left foot goes out; then bring both fists back to center chest as your feet come back together.
  • Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

Traveling Side Squat

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your waist.
  • Brace your core and take a wide step to your right, lowering into a squat at the bottom of the movement. Take care to push your hips and butt back as you drop down - you don't want to bend forward at the waist.
  • Bring your feet together as you come up out of the squat.
  • Repeat, step-squatting to the right for 5 steps.
  • Reverse direction and squat to the left for 5 steps.
  • Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

Single Leg Balance With Toe Taps

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips. You can also hold onto the chair for support, if needed.
  • Brace your core and shift your weight onto one leg, knee slightly bent. Esta es la posición inicial.
  • Try to stay balanced on your standing leg as you reach your other leg out in front of you and tap the floor with your toes. Then, reach your free leg out to the side and tap the floor again. Finally, tap the floor behind you before returning your free leg to the starting position. Esa es una repetición.
  • Repeat for 10 reps on one side before switching to the other.
  • Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

Tip: Keep your chest up and hips level; try not to shift side-to-side or front-to-back during the movement.

Standing March for Lower Abs

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. If needed, hold on to the chair for balance.
  • Engage your lower abs to support your spine and steady your pelvis — which is the key to this exercise.
  • From here, lift one knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as you can go) while keep your torso straight and avoiding any leaning.
  • Return your foot to the floor and immediately lift the other knee.
  • Continue alternating, or marching in place, for 30 seconds.

Triceps Extension With or Without Step Back

How to do it:

  • Grab two light dumbbells (optional) and grip one in each hand.
  • Stand tall with your chest up, feet about hip-width apart.
  • From here, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a shallow squat.
  • Tuck your elbows in at your sides and bend your elbows 90 degrees to bring the weights in front of your body, palms facing in.
  • Keeping your elbows where they are, straighten both arms to engage the muscles in the backs of your arms (your triceps).
  • At the same time, shift your weight onto your right foot and tap your left toes behind you.
  • Return your foot to the starting position and bend your elbows to bring the weights back in front of your body.
  • Continue alternating back toe taps as you do your triceps extensions for 20 to 30 seconds.

Make it easier: Take out the step back. You can also do this one arm at a time, holding onto the chair with the other arm, if needed for support.

Biceps Curls

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How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Hold a dumbbell (optional) in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing forward.
  • Keeping your torso still and elbows tucked close to your sides, bend your elbows (not your wrists) to curl the weights up to your shoulders.
  • Pause, then slowly return to starting position.
  • Continue for 20 to 30 seconds.

Reverse Lunge

How to do it:

  • Párese erguido y apóyese con una mano en la silla.
  • Pase su peso a una pierna y levante la otra rodilla.
  • Stretch your lifted leg back, and place your toes on the floor.
  • Encuentre su equilibrio en esta posición y luego eleve el pecho para que los hombros queden sobre la cadera.
  • From here, keep your weight over your front foot as you bend your knees to lower down for a lunge. Exhale y contraiga los músculos de las piernas para volverse a levantar.
  • Do 10 reps, then switch legs and repeat.

Seated Leg Extensions

How to do it:

  • Sit tall in your chair, with both feet flat on the floor, hands on your knees.
  • Brace your core, then slowly raise your right foot off the floor, flexing at the ankle, to knee height. Contract the muscles of your upper leg as you move.
  • Pause for a moment, then return to start.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Do 10 to 12 reps with each leg.

Love these exercises and want more? Try this FREE SilverSneakers On-Demand Class: Bodyweight Strength Training Exercises for Seniors


Hip Flexor Stretch

How to do it:

  • Stand near your chair with your chest lifted and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping a slight bend in both knees and a hand on the chair or your hips, extend your left leg back and place the ball of the foot on the floor.
  • Gently press down through your left foot and squeeze your left glute to feel the stretch in the front of the left thigh.
  • If you feel stable, reach your left hand up and overhead.
  • Hold here for 20 to 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

How to do it:

  • Sit or stand tall, and shift your weight to your right leg.
  • Extend your left leg in front of you with your toes up and your heel on the ground.
  • Keep a slight bend in your right knee, and place your hands on your right thigh or your hips.
  • From here, keep your chest lifted as you hinge forward slightly at your hips to feel a stretch in the back of your left thigh.
  • Hold here for 20 to 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Finish the workout with a few slow, deep breaths.

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