Diet and exercise for osteoporosis
Lower your risk factors and help prevent osteoporosis by changing your lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes you can make include:
- getting enough vitamin D through safe sun exposure
- getting your recommended daily dietary calcium intake
- doing regular high-intensity weight-bearing and resistance exercise.
Calcium, vitamin D and physical activity are essential for maintaining healthy bones and helping prevent osteoporosis.
Physical activity and exercise
Specific types of exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise and progressive resistance training, are important for improving bone strength. Weight-bearing exercise can include jogging, aerobics and dancing. Examples of resistance training are lifting hand or ankle weights.1
If you have not previously undertaken any physical activity, a low level exercise program is recommended. A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can advise on the most appropriate exercise program individualised to your abilities and interest.1
Having osteoporosis doesn't mean you necessarily need calcium or vitamin D supplements, but it is a trigger to check whether your levels are adequately maintained through your diet and sun exposure. If a blood test shows that you are vitamin D-deficient then your health professional may prescribe vitamin D supplements.
Three serves per day of dairy provide enough calcium for most people (children, adolescents and adults).
People who cannot eat dairy products may be able to get enough calcium by including other calcium-rich foods in their diet. These include almonds, tofu, tinned salmon and beans such as baked or soy beans and calcium-fortified foods. They may also be useful options for people who are unable to consume the adequate number of serves of dairy food each day.
Practical tips on your daily requirements and getting enough calcium in your diet are available on the Osteoporosis Australia website.
Only consider a calcium supplement when you have trouble getting enough calcium from your diet, and ask your doctor or pharmacist about a supplement and dose that suits you.
Find out about your daily recommended calcium intake and choosing the most suitable calcium supplement.
Preventing low vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is made by the body when bare skin is exposed to sunlight. Most people can get enough vitamin D through short periods of sun exposure, but people who are vitamin D deficient or at high risk of deficiency may need a supplement. Calcium and vitamin D work together to maintain bone strength, so it is important to get enough of each.
Learn about how much sun exposure you need to produce vitamin D.
Find out more
- The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Clinical guideline for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and older men. 2010. [Online] (accessed 11 August 2015).