Balance, Posture and Functional Exercises for Bone Health

Updated: May 10, 2018

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This is a bone health exercise guide directly from the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF)

Balance Exercises for Bone Health

Balance and leg strengthening exercises can help improve balance while decreasing the risk of falls. Many fitness centers, community centers and other organizations offer balance exercise programs, such as Tai Chi classes. Balance exercises can also be done at home.

Who should do balance exercises? Balance exercises are especially important if you have fallen during the past year or if you lose your balance while doing regular daily activities.

How often should you do balance exercises? You can do balance exercises every day. You can perform these exercises at one time or spread them throughout the day. Below is an example of a balance progression exercise you can do at home.

Balance Training Progression Exercise: Before beginning the progression exercise, keep in mind that your legs and feet should feel a little wobbly to show that balance is being challenged. However, you should never feel like you could fall. Make sure to read all of the information about the Balance Training Progression before beginning the exercise.

Level 1 Feet together: Stand with feet tight next to each other.

Level 2 Semi-tandem: Stand with one foot in front but slightly to the side of the other with the inside edge of the front heel touching the inside edge of the back foot’s big toe.

Level 3 Tandem: Stand with one foot directly in front of the other like being on a tight rope.

Level 4 Single leg stance: Stand on one leg only.

At first, you may need to hold onto a stable chair or table with both hands. When you no longer wobble, hold on with one hand only. Then progress to doing the exercise while touching the chair or table with one fingertip only.

As you become steadier, you should hold both hands two inches above the chair or table or do the exercise with your eyes closed.

Start with Level 1 and try to hold the position for 20 – 30 seconds. Once you can do this, progress to the next level.
As you are able to master each level, progress to the next level until you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed with your hands two inches above the chair or table.

This exercise can be done once each day. Stop the exercise immediately if you feel like you could fall.

Posture Exercises for Bone Health

Good posture includes keeping your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your knees and your knees over your ankles.

Posture exercises can also help you reduce rounded or “sloping” shoulders. These exercises can also help you reduce the chance of breaking bones in your spine.

Doing a variety of posture exercises can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your upper body, abdominals (tummy), back and lower body.

Who should do posture exercises? Good posture is important for everyone. Posture exercises are especially important if your head is slumping forward, your shoulders are rounded or your spine is curving forward.

How often should you do posture exercises? You can do posture exercises every day. You can perform these exercises at one time or spread them throughout the day.

Below is an example of a posture exercise that stretches the shoulders, flattens the upper back and improves rounded shoulders:

Corner Stretch Exercise Example

  1. Stand in the corner of a room with your arms bent at a 90 degree angle at shoulder level and hands touching the walls (see picture below for proper position of head, arms and legs).
  2. Step one foot forward, letting that knee bend.
  3. Lean onto your front leg, bringing your head and chest toward the corner. You should feel a light stretch in your shoulders. Look at the corner of the wall at chest level to avoid overextending the neck.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Stand up straight and switch feet.
  6. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

The Corner Stretch exercise should be done twice on each side about three times per week.

Functional Exercises for Bone Health

Functional exercises are similar to the activities you do each day. These exercises can help you stay strong when doing these activities, such as getting in and out of a chair.

Who should do functional exercises? If you struggle to do every day activities, such as standing up from a chair or climbing stairs, you should do functional exercises. Also, if you have recently been inactive due to a broken bone, surgery, an illness or other reason, you may also benefit from these exercises.

How often should you do functional exercises? You can do functional exercises every day. You can do these exercises at one time or spread them throughout the day. Below is an example of a functional exercise that helps with safety when getting up from a chair to a standing position. It also helps strengthen legs.

Chair Rise Exercise Example

  1. Sit on the front edge of a chair and rise to the standing position. Then gently sit back down without using your arms. It may be helpful to cross your arms over your chest to prevent using them.
  2. Keep your knees and feet hip-width apart at all times.
  3. Use the strength of your legs to stand and sit.
  4. If this can’t be done without using your arms, place a pillow on the seat of the chair (underneath you) to make it a bit easier.
  5. The goal is to stand and sit 10 times in a row. Once a set of 10 can be comfortably completed, remove the pillow or move the exercise to a lower chair to make it harder.

The Chair Rise Exercise can be done once each day.

* These exercises should not hurt in any way while they are being done or cause muscle soreness lasting more than two days. All individuals should obtain permission from their healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program.

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  1. joyce mccarter

    October 26, 2011 , 8:24 pm

    will try all of these,73 years old with R.A will they help with R.A,?

  2. Clarice Gates

    November 9, 2011 , 11:19 pm

    Is this better than Citracal or Carbonate Calcium? How is it different?

  3. AlgaeCal

    November 10, 2011 , 6:31 pm

    Hi Clarice,

    I assume that you are asking the difference between AlgaeCal calcium compared to Citracal and calcium carbonate? AlgaeCal is much different than Citracal (calcium citrate) and calcium carbonate which are made from limestone or marble.

    AlgaeCal is an organic, plant-sourced calcium derived from a South American marine algae called Algas Calcareas. The big difference is that AlgaeCal naturally contains calcium plus several other minerals that have all been shown to be important to bone health, such as magnesium, silica, boron, zinc, manganese, copper, and several other trace minerals.

    If you would like more information on AlgaeCal visit

    Thanks for contributing to our bone health blog.

  4. Mary Wong

    November 10, 2011 , 4:47 am

    The corner stretch exercise is good.

    But can you explain what is the purpose of the the chair rise exercise; is it to strengthen the thighs? Does one stand straight up, before sitting down again?

  5. AlgaeCal

    November 10, 2011 , 6:15 pm

    Hi Mary,

    The chair exercise will help strengthen your legs but it is more about practicing getting up from a chair to a standing position safely. I hope this answers your question, thanks for leaving a comment.

  6. kathy umlauf

    November 12, 2011 , 12:21 am

    I appreciate being able to access your information.
    Can I print out the level 2 exercises?

  7. AlgaeCal

    November 12, 2011 , 4:45 pm

    Please feel free to print out any page you like, we are glad you like our information. We will also try and add a print page button to our posts so that you will be able to easily print out only the text of a post.

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,