At-home exercises for osteoporosis, arthritis, posture, strength


I am a 65 year-old woman with severe osteoporosis (particularly in the spine, -3.9) and knee issues (grade III-IV condromalacia of posterior third of medial femoral condyle diagnosed in a 2005 MRI, a Baker’s cyst in the same knee, and pes anserine bursitis just below both knees).

I weigh 90 pounds, and all my muscles are weak – exercise has never been a part of my life. My posture is terrible.

Although I have long-term care-taking responsibilities (for more than one person), for the first time in many years I see a window opening where I can begin to think about exercising. Due to time and financial constraints, doing this at home is best for me.

My goals are to increase my bone density (particularly in the spine), strengthen my knees, improve my posture and get stronger in general.

It looks like I could manage about 1 hour a day for exercise, either in one session or two shorter ones. At some point I should be able to devote more time.

Although I always have had an aversion to exercise (I would rather do anything else, even clean the bathroom!), I am very self-disciplined and motivated, more so now that I am getting older and see what my future could be if I do not do this.

What I am looking for is at least a few different resources so I will not be doing the same thing every day. Also, what are the best resources for someone just starting out, and what are possibilities for further down the road when I am stronger?

I do not have video or DVD capability so books and online resources would be the best. I remember someone mentioning a yoga routine for people with osteoporosis and scoliosis (which I also have), so if someone could send me that link, I would really appreciate it.

My knee doctor says no walking or stairs, and also no to the following exercises: calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, step ups, wall slide and leg lunge. I need to avoid exercise that puts any pressure on my knee.

I have been totally checked out medically, and other than the knee restrictions, have a green light to exercise.

Starting out is a little daunting, so thanks so much for any help you can give!


Edited April 21, 2013 at 5:57 am

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I have not done this program but I have looked at her information and it seems very solid. She does offer 5 days free which gives you more information about the program. Also refund within 30 days if you are dissatisfied. Check out the web site. I found this web site through this group. Just one option to consider. Has anyone done this program? Did it help? I am 59 and have osteopenia in my spine T -2.4 so I'm very close to osteoporosis, thankfully my hips are normal but I want to start strength training for my spine, I've been a walker for years. Does anyone else have other exercise program or information to share? Thanks.
Linda ram/order-your-exercise-for-better-bones-program

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I, too, would be interested to hear from anyone that has experience with this program. I am 65 & have severe osteoporsis. Hip isn't bad, but spine is -3.9. I just found all this out & am feeling overwhelmed. Dr. only wants to talk about medication; doesn't think exercise will help at all at this point. I'm pretty active & do a lot of walking.

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I can recommend a book I bought online called Osteopilates (Pilates for people with osteoporosis) by Karena Thek Lineback - an American, I believe. The exercises she demonstrates are all safe for people with osteoporosis, and she also shows exercises for people without osteoporosis, although I have to admit that when I went to a Pilates class for 2-3 years, I actually did do these 'forbidden' exercises, but since hurting my back over a year ago at an exercise class (a facet joint injury not connected with osteoporosis) I haven't done any exercise for fear of hurting my back, so like you, I need to start doing something. If we do not use our muscles, our bones get weaker. The older you get (I am 68) the more we need to work at getting stronger. I think I got the abovementioned book through Amazon. Wishing you all the best. Like you, my posture is terrible, and I find it uncomfortable to lie on my back. Does anyone know if it is possible to straighten a humped spine? It is so ageing!

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I was recently diagnosed with moderate osteoporosis (somewhat of a shock at age 49), and was referred to the Melio site by a colleague and friend who's had good results from the program. As mentioned by Brittonfamily, recommendations are well-researched, and the price of the online/print program is very reasonable. I particularly appreciate the fact that the site, though commercial, is not at all 'hard sell'. Much of the basic information is available free of charge, making it easier to determine if it's worthwhile to order the program. Just a heads-up that this is not a glitzy program, though. The information is clear and well-founded, but the videos are very low-key (talk and demonstrations). For those looking for music, routines, etc., this may not be what you're seeking. However, for those looking for a clear, well-researched exercise program designed specifically for those with osteoporosis, I haven't seen better.

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I bought Yoga for Osteoporosis, which is helpful. For cardio, if you like music, you might try dancing uninterrupted for 30 to 60 minutes. Just dance however your body says. It was fun for me.

I lift weights and use resistance bands to get my shoulders "down and back" as I have arthritis in one and a torn rotator cuff in the other. The "down and back" stuff helps posture quite a bit. My PT showed me how to work with the resistance bands and you would probably look that up, but basically what you're doing is squeezing your shoulder blades together. THe reason I do it is to work other muscles to make up for the rotator cuff and arthritis issue, which both cause pain. The exercise helps reduce the pain.

Good luck!

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Hi, I just wanted to say, you go girl! I'm 62 yrs old, have servere osteoporosis, just recovering from a broken hip, was operated on last Dec, 2nd operation. The one done in August when i first broke my hip, failed.
Just prior to that, I was very ill from Jan to June, IBS and Diverticulitis. I went down to 105 pounds, I'm usually 135! Was getting better from that when i fell and broke my hip.
I'm so weak, have finally gained the weight back.
PT was hard, but I pushed through. I have never been into exercise either, but was always active.
I feel like I will never gain my strength back
This post of yours gives me hope, you have such a good attitude!
Thanks for posting!

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Thanks for all the tips!

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Hi Uma - I just have a PS to add to everyone else's excellent recommendations...I have used a great book by Miriam Nelson called "Strong Women Stay Young" -with lots and lots of great strength training exercises - well illustrated and explained. Most if not all can be done in a chair - whole workout wouldn't be more than a half an hour. Your doctor probably has heard of this program as it's been available to some time. I never thought I would like strength training as much as I've gotten to over time either, so you never know.....just a thought. Congratulations to you....

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That sounds just right for me - I will order it right now on Amazon!

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Thanks, I also just ordered the book on Amazon. Sounds like a good starting place.

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Hi vermicelli and Brittonfamily - glad you're going to check Dr. Nelson's book out. She's written several others (including one called "Strong Women, Strong Bones") but this is my favorite, though they're all fantastic. Lots of good illustrations and very specific recommendations. Hope these help you in some way. We're all in this together....

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Just read all the info on exercises from everyone. Good information.

I ordered and just received a DVD called Be Fit Over Fifty. If interested, go to I am in my 70's, but they are mild exercises and some using 1 and 2# lbs. It is for firming and toning and for osteo and arthritis. It can also be used for diabetics. I exercised for 19 years at the gym and it helped my osteo more than I realized. When I stopped in 2010, I started getting worse. I stopped due to pain in my neck, which now is in my back. I have a lot of bad stuff going on now in my back. I walk at least 4 days a week for 30 min. Sometime it is hard to do. I live on the third floor of a condo, so I take the stairs from the parking garage as much as I can. Sometimes I go down and up, just to get the exercise I know I need. Exercise helped me a lot, so I am now trying to start some things at home aside from the walking, which my doctor said is so important. I have a little arthritis in one knee, but have been able to keep the pain down by walking. I just don't push myself.

I have a hump on my right side and would like to get rid of it, but don't know if that is possible.

I ran into a door when I was working and I think it caused some of my problems and posture problem.

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Hi strongtostronger,
There is a (still open) discussion where members are recommending books, Miriam Nelson's book "Strong Women, Strong Bones" is on that list but not the one you said you liked best "Strong Women Stay Young". If that is also a book with exercises for us with Osteopenia/Osteoporosis could you please post about it there too? ook-recommendations-14/ Kind regards /Lela

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Hi Lela - I will compare both books to see if there is any overlap in the exercises presented. (My recollection is that many of the exercises are the same.) If so, I will definitely post about the "Strong Women Stay Young" book in the book recommendations section. Thanks for asking.

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Thanks for sharing elise52, i need to hear things like this to make me motivate myself to start doing more exercise. I'm so weak, i'm loosing more and more strength each day. I try to be active, then i get carried away if i'm having a good day, do to much, then sleep for 2 days! I know I'm to pace myself, can't get the hang of it.
I had a bad year last year. Started out with a bad stomach. IBS, lasted for 4 months, went down to 105 pounds, should weigh 135. saw stomach doc, colonoscopy, also had diverticulitus. Started getting better from that, fell in August broke my hip, had surgery. That surgery failed, had to get total hip replacement. Had to be cleared by heart doctor, he did a heart cath to see hoe blocked my arteries are, 60%. Finally had total hip replacement last Dec. Went to therapy for 3 more months, and i'm still not back to myself. Will I ever get my strength back?

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Hi Ladyluckb, I'm sorry to hear you have so many problems. There is such a narrow line between good and bad health - you can be in excellent condition one minute, and then because of a slip or something, it all comes tumbling down! If I may share a little of my own story: I was born with a condition called Klippel-Feil Syndrome, which involves spine and neck problems, but didn't find out I had it until late in life, as it is a bit rare. I've never had a completely straight back, but in my teens I started Yoga, and that worked wonders for my spine. Once the children came along, though, I never had time to do it, so became round-shouldered again. A few years ago I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and immediately started going to the gym for weight training and then Pilates, both of which helped a great deal, and I definitely felt my back becoming straighter and stronger. Then about a year ago I hurt my back at a stretch and tone class and was unable to do any form of exercise because of the pain, and now, because I haven't done any exercise for over a year, my back has started getting humped again, and it is painful and uncomfortable to lie on my back, so I can't go back to Pilates, although I have done some in my own home, on a thick rubber mat. I am looking forward to reading the book about strong women, and hope that helps. Do keep on with what you are doing. Every little helps! And love and best wishes to you.

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Did your physiatrist find a reason for your back issues? Was any treatment recommended?

I recently went to phys therapy for low back pain that curbed my walking etc & the therapist pushed too hard so I discontinued. I am now trying some DVDs that have been suggested here & trying to walk each day...I'm going about 20 minutes now. The therapist did say that many of us over 50---I'm 61----have some arthritis or other general degeneration in the spine. We must keep moving.

Thanks to all on this thread for the suggestions. Uma let us know if you have found an answer. I'm thinking about heading to the Y & getting into the pool.

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Thanks for sharing your back story. Your story is a bit like mine in that once you hurt yourself or have pain, you can't do much to keep the exercises going like you should or did once. I have never done Pilates, and wish I had. I am afraid now, it might cause more pain.

I know that when I was going to the gym and doing machine weights, it helped me, because of what is happening to me now. Walking is about all I have been doing, and I am just thankful, I can still do that.

The exercises on the DVD I just got will help some if I can keep it up. I started yesterday. I didn't do the complete set, but I am determined to do a little every day until I feel strong enough to do a complete set at least three times a week. I keep telling myself to not push, as I have a tendency to do that.

I have a Yoga DVD that I will start and see if I can handle it. It is suppose to improve flexibility and strength.

I was happy to know that your back got back straighter when you were exercising. I pray I will be able to do some daily and see if I can get my back in better shape. My shoulders are going forward, which I believe started when I ran into the door and didn't get proper help even though I was going to PT.

Thank you for sharing the things that helped you. I am a firm believer that exercise is the key to a better back, if one can do it.


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Check out Sara Meeks exercise prrogram.

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