10 Osteoporosis Self-Care Tips

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Learn about how to manage your physical and mental well-being with osteoporosis self-care.

Disclaimer: If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Well Guide contain information from peer-reviewed research, medical societies and governmental agencies; however, these articles are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

A diagnosis of osteoporosis can come with a lot of questions and uncertainty. It’s important to have a good treatment plan in place to manage your osteoporosis, medically, but it’s also important to recognize that a diagnosis of osteoporosis can also impact your mental health. For this reason, you should prioritize not just your physical health but also your mental health in the management of this diagnosis. One way to do this is with a good osteoporosis self-care plan. 

In this article we’ll explore some of the best ways to practice self-care after a diagnosis of osteoporosis. 

Managing osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures. It requires a comprehensive approach to health maintenance. There are many factors that can help manage your osteoporosis, but medication, exercise, and nutrition are among the most important. 

Engaging in regular exercise, particularly weight-bearing and strength-training activities, is crucial for maintaining bone density and overall physical fitness (Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation). A healthy diet with adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, among other vitamins and minerals, can support bone health and help prevent further bone loss. Your doctor will be able to help you determine if medical management and the use of dietary supplements will also help you manage your bone loss. 

There are many proactive measures that can be taken to manage bone loss, but having a good self-care plan in place will help you feel strong mentally and physically as you navigate your diagnosis. 

The importance of self-care

Receiving a diagnosis of osteoporosis, or any chronic health condition, can be a life-altering moment that prompts you to reevaluate your lifestyle and prioritize your well-being. The importance of self-care after this type of diagnosis cannot be overstated. 

Self-care means prioritizing your well-being, even as you treat your physical condition. Self-care can come in many forms depending on what feels personally calming, grounding and supportive to you. Regardless of how you do it, self-care can involve managing stress levels, feeling supported through mindfulness techniques, ensuring sufficient sleep, and seeking emotional support if needed. 

Embracing a holistic approach to self-care empowers individuals with osteoporosis to enhance their quality of life, mitigate the impact of the condition, and foster a positive mindset for navigating the challenges that may arise in daily life.

10 osteoporosis self-care tips

What is considered self-care for one person might be different from self-care for another person, so keep in mind that this list isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. That said, here are 10 expert tips for osteoporosis self-care to help get you started:

1. Regular exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to build and maintain bone while also boosting your mood. Be sure to engage in weight-bearing exercises and strength training to promote bone health. Activities like walking, hiking, dancing, and resistance training can be fun while also helping to strengthen bones and improve balance, reducing the risk of fractures (Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation; Harvard Health Publishing, 2021).

2. Balanced nutrition

What you eat will affect how you feel, and is one of the most important elements of healthy bones. Consume a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, which are both essential for bone health. 

However, don’t stop there. Other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and protein are all critical components of a bone-healthy diet. Speak with a nutritionist if you need help determining which foods can boost your bone health, and consult with a healthcare professional to determine if supplements are necessary.

3. Fall prevention

Falls can be one of the most detrimental aspects of osteoporosis, leading to multiple fractures and having a major impact on one’s independence (CDC, 2023). Take precautions to prevent falls, as individuals with osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures. Keep living spaces well-lit, use handrails, and remove tripping hazards. Incorporate balance and posture exercises into your regular workout routine, and consider a balance assessment with a physical therapist if you’re not entirely sure where you stand… literally.

4. Medication adherence

If prescribed medication by a healthcare provider, adhere to the recommended treatment plan. Medications such as bisphosphonates, hormone therapy, and other bone-strengthening drugs can help manage your osteoporosis and prevent further weakening of your bones. Taking care of yourself sometimes means accepting help and incorporating medication or supplements. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions about your medications or supplements. 

5. Regular health check-ups

It goes without saying that having regular check-ups is often one of the best ways to stay on top of your bone health while also figuring out what you and your body needs in terms of mental and physical health management. Schedule regular check-ups in advance so that you don’t fall behind, and make sure you have a medical team that you can trust and rely on. 

6. Mind-body practices

Stress can impact your physical and mental well-being. While there are many ways to manage mental health, practicing mindfulness, meditation and other stress-reducing techniques such as tai chi or deep breathing exercises can help you manage stress, which can negatively impact bone health (Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation). 

7. Hydration

It may seem obvious, but hydration is so important for your physical well-being – especially if you are doing regular exercises. Water can help transport the minerals you consume to different parts of the body, and it is also crucial for cellular health. For this reason, good hydration can contribute to better bone health. 

8. Community and social support

The last thing anyone needs after a diagnosis of osteoporosis is to feel isolated. Whether you’re looking to connect with other women who have the same diagnosis, joining a walking or fitness group, or hoping to lean on friends and family, community is a must for self-care. Coping with a chronic condition like osteoporosis can be challenging, and having a strong support system is always beneficial.

9. Quit smoking and limit alcohol

A drink here or there can be fine, but research shows that smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weakened bones (Godos, 2022). Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake contribute positively to bone health, and the health benefits of doing these two things expand well beyond bone health. 

10. Educate yourself

Learning more about osteoporosis, how to manage it, and the lifestyle modifications that can positively impact your health will help you feel in control.Getting a diagnosis of osteoporosis changes the way a lot of people think about how they move. But don’t fear movement – it is so important! Being informed and knowledgeable about your diagnosis (and the best ways to move with it) will help empower you to stay strong and make proactive decisions about your health.

It's important to keep in mind that, no matter your self-care preferences, if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis you should always work closely with a medical doctor to develop a personalized self-care plan tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

Why practice self-care?

As with any medical diagnosis, a new diagnosis can make you feel more vulnerable and unsure how to take care of yourself. Self-care can help you find comfort, peace and calm as well as improved overall health and well-being as you navigate your health and future. Luckily, self-care can come in many forms. Figuring out which self-care practices are best for you will help you live a more healthy and happy life, and clear the way for improved physical and mental well-being. 


What not to do if you have osteoporosis?

For women with osteoporosis, it's crucial to avoid certain activities that may lead to a higher risk of fractures. While there are some bone building benefits to high-impact exercises for people who have not been diagnosed with severe bone loss, high-impact exercises and abrupt movements can put too much stress on the bones and joints (Brooke-Wavell, 2022). 

Examples of high-impact activities include jumping, running and vigorous aerobics. Similarly, be cautious with activities that involve bending forward or twisting of the spine, as these can increase the likelihood of vertebral compression fractures. When it comes to nutrition, avoid excessive alcohol intake and smoking, as these habits can further weaken bones. Lastly, be mindful of certain medications that may adversely affect bone density, and consult with a healthcare professional to ensure they align with your bone health needs. 

Can you live with osteoporosis without medication?

Living with osteoporosis without medication is possible for some, but it requires careful management and lifestyle adjustments. Medication is often recommended to help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures, and is very effective. 

However, lifestyle changes play a crucial role in osteoporosis management, as well. Regular weight-bearing and resistance exercises, a balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals, and avoiding activities that may pose a higher risk of fractures are essential. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized plan and determine the most appropriate course of action based on the severity of osteoporosis and your overall health. 

Regular check-ups and bone density screenings can also help monitor your condition and guide ongoing treatment and bone health management strategies.

What is the best exercise for osteoporosis?

The best exercises for individuals with osteoporosis are weight-bearing, resistance, posture and balance exercises. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, dancing, and low-impact aerobics are excellent ways to enhance bone density. Strength training exercises using resistance bands or weights can help build muscle, providing additional stimulation to improve bone density. Balance and posture exercises can help reduce the risk of falls and fractures.

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  1. Osteoporosis Exercises for Strong Bones. Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. N.d. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/patients/treatment/exercisesafe-movement/osteoporosis-exercise-for-strong-bones/ 
  2. Strength training builds more than muscles. Harvard Health Publishing. October 13, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles 
  3. Older Adult Falls Data. Center for Disease Control. Reviewed September 6, 2023. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/falls/data/index.html 
  4. Overall Health. Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. N.d. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/patients/treatment/overall-health/
  5. Godos J, Giampieri F, Chisari E, et al. Alcohol Consumption, Bone Mineral Density, and Risk of Osteoporotic Fractures: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(3):1515. doi:10.3390/ijerph19031515
  6. Brooke-Wavell K, Skelton DA, Barker KL, et al. Strong, steady and straight: UK consensus statement on physical activity and exercise for osteoporosis [published online ahead of print, 2022 May 16]. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-104634

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