Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) position statement on exercise prescription for the prevention and management of osteoporosis

J Sci Med Sport. 2017 May;20(5):438-445. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2016.10.001. Epub 2016 Oct 31.


Objectives: Osteoporotic fractures are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Although exercise has long been recommended for the prevention and management of osteoporosis, existing guidelines are often non-specific and do not account for individual differences in bone health, fracture risk and functional capacity. The aim of the current position statement is to provide health practitioners with specific, evidence-based guidelines for safe and effective exercise prescription for the prevention or management of osteoporosis, accommodating a range of potential comorbidities.

Design: Position statement.

Methods: Interpretation and application of research reports describing the effects of exercise interventions for the prevention and management of low bone mass, osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture.

Results: Evidence from animal and human trials indicates that bone responds positively to impact activities and high intensity progressive resistance training. Furthermore, the optimisation of muscle strength, balance and mobility minimises the risk of falls (and thereby fracture), which is particularly relevant for individuals with limited functional capacity and/or a very high risk of osteoporotic fracture. It is important that all exercise programs be accompanied by sufficient calcium and vitamin D, and address issues of comorbidity and safety. For example, loaded spine flexion is not recommended, and impact activities may require modification in the presence of osteoarthritis or frailty.

Conclusions: Specific guidelines for safe and effective exercise for bone health are presented. Individual exercise prescription must take into account existing bone health status, co-morbidities, and functional or clinical risk factors for falls and fracture.

Keywords: Ageing; Balance; Bone; Exercise guidelines; Falls; Fracture prevention; Muscle; Osteopenia; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Bone Density
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Consensus
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Resistance Training / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D