The best exercise for healthy bones

by | Bone health – Menopause and perimenopause

An older woman does squats to build better bones.

Exercise plays a key role in osteoporosis prevention and maintaining strong healthy bones. But research has demonstrated that when it comes to our bones, not all exercise is equal. Bones benefit when a certain amount of impact or strain is placed on them, making specific types of exercise most beneficial.

The ability of an exercise to have an impact on bone depends on the specific way that stress is applied to the bone during the exercise. Exercise is also important for the size, strength and capacity of our muscles which is essential to maintain mobility. Exercise must be ongoing to have a proper benefit.

Exercise goals throughout life

Exercise goals for bone health change over time from

Specific types of exercise to support bone health

Weight-bearing impact loading exercise

What is it? Exercise done on your feet so you bear your own weight which jolts bones rapidly and firmly. Examples include: jogging, skipping, basketball, netball, tennis, dancing, impact aerobics, and stair walking.

Resistance training

What is it? Using hand and ankle weights and gym equipment such as training with weights that progress in intensity over time.

Healthy Bones Australia Exercise Guide

This guide is based on guidelines published by Exercise and Sports Science Australia and is a general guide to appropriate exercise for supporting your bone health. This can be shared with a personal trainer as required. Note – exercise should be conducted within your capacity, and supervised exercise is recommended for people with diagnosed osteoporosis.

View Exercise Guide

Step Ups

Weight bearing exercise

View the exercise flyer for examples of other weight bearing exercise and other exercises.


Resistance training

View the exercise flyer for examples of other resistance training exercises and other exercises.


Balance exercises

View the exercise flyer for examples of other balance exercises and other exercises.

Supervised Exercise Program

Healthy Bones Australia has aligned with an accredited exercise program called ONERO. This approach to training is based on research studies conducted in women and men with osteoporosis.

Please note: exercise professionals become ONERO Accredited Practitioners by completing the ONERO Academy program and are certified to deliver ONERO training to members of the public. The ONERO Academy program is accredited by Exercise and Sport Science Australia. The ONERO Academy program was developed by Professor Belinda Beck of Griffith University.

Find an accredited ONERO practitioner near you.

Balance exercises and preventing falls

In older Australians balance and mobility exercises can help reduce falls which often lead to fractures. Half of all falls occur around the home and approximately a third of people over 65 fall each year. Preventing falls is important for bone health to help prevent fractures.

Falls are most commonly caused by

  • Poor muscle strength
  • Factors impacting balance eg: low blood pressure, inner ear problems, drowsiness/dizziness caused by certain medicines, poor nutrition
  • Poor vision
  • Home hazards that cause tripping

Extensive research has been conducted into the best ways to address these issues and avoid falls. Review strategies to avoid falls.

Balance exercises

  • Standing still exercises e.g: standing on one leg, standing tall raising arms, put one foot in front of the other and hold, tai chi
  • Moving exercises e.g: walking in small circles, walking with sudden change of direction, stepping over obstacles, walking on toes, walking with arms raised above the head, walking sideways and backwards, line dancing
  • Dual task exercises e.g: standing on one leg while throwing and catching a ball

This article is republished with permission from Healthy Bones Australia. Contact us on our helpline: 1800 242 141

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