Exercise and Diet Tips for Women Over 50 With Osteoporosis

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Nearly 8 milion women in the United States have osteoporosis and one in two women over age 50 will suffer a broken bone because of it. The likelihood of having osteoporosis after menopause is higher because ovaries produce less estrogen which leads to weaker bone cells. According to the Arthritis Foundation, women lose about half of their spongy bone tissue during their lifetime—most of it happening in the first 10 years after menopause.

The good news is you can build stronger bones and avoid falls and bone breaks with just a few adjustments to your diet and exercise habits. And if you’re already exercising and eating well, then keep up the good work! Getting enough calcium in your diet helps build strong bones, but you also need vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium. Add weight bearing and strengthening exercises to the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for improved bone health for women over 50 with osteoporosis.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Osteoporosis

Before you start making changes to your diet and fitness routine, learn more about the specific foods and exercises that will benefit your body. You should also let your doctor know you’re trying a new approach, so they can share advice and resources.  

Exercises for Osteoporosis

Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis should focus on exercises that strengthen muscles and bones while improving posture and balance. This will help prevent falls and bone breaks. Look for fitness moves that target all of your major muscles groups. Try to find a few favorite exercises that focus on areas most likely to fracture—wrist, spine, ribs and hips. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all exercise program for osteoporosis. It’s best to choose activities you enjoy and have fun doing week after week. It’s also smart to vary your routine to keep your muscles (and you!) engaged and challenged. Aim for 30 minutes of movement a day, 5 days per week. Choose low-impact exercises and avoid moves that forcefully twist your spine.

Recommended exerecises for women with osteoporosis:

  • Walking or jogging

  • Stair climber or elliptical trainer

  • Low-impact aerobics

  • Pilates, yoga, tai chi and stretching

  • Weight lifting or body sculpting

  • Dancing

Osteoporosis Diet

A good diet will help fuel your fitness routine and add more oomph to your bone mass. Boosting your calcium and vitamin D intake helps build strong bones to prevent falls. It’s recommended women over age 50 take in 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-1000 mg of vitamin D every day.

You can get extra calcium by eating foods like low-fat milk, sardines, salmon and leafy green vegetables. Increase your vitamin D intake by eating beef liver, eggs, and fortified cereals. Try to cut back on caffeine, salt and alcohol because they interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium and can cause your bones to lose calcium.

A few osteoporosis-friendly foods and their calcium counts:

  • American cheese: 175 mg

  • Bok choy: 75 mg

  • Broccoli: 60 mg

  • Cereal: 100-1000 mg

  • Cheddar cheese: 200 mg

  • Cottage cheese: 70 mg

  • Ice cream: 140-210 mg

  • Kale: 95 mg

  • Milk: 300 mg

  • Orange: 50 mg

  • Salmon: 180 mg

  • Sardines: 325 mg

  • Shrimp: 125 mg

  • Yogurt: 300 mg

Now that you’re armed with a solid foundation, plan a new workout or create a great grocery list that will benefit your body and ease your osteoporosis symptoms. If you have questions or need additional diet and exercise advice, ask your doctor to recommend a nutritionist or dietician who can help.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Jul 17
  1. Exercising with
    osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/in-depth/osteoporosis/art-20044989
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    Osteoporosis Foundation. https://cdn.nof.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/25-Calcium-Rich-Foods.pdf
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