What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects two thirds of Australians over 50 years old.
In osteoporosis the bones become porous and brittle, leading to an increased risk of fractures from falls – leading to reduced independence, muscle weakness, and decreased quality of life.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, particularly calcium, quicker than the body can replace them. Fortunately, bone is a dynamic tissue constantly remodelling, and with enough stimulus and nutrition, bone mass can be maintained.
What are the risk factors of Osteoporosis?
• Women going through early menopause, or men with low testosterone levels
• Low intake of calcium and vitamin D
• Prolonged use of some medications;
o Corticosteroids; these are often used for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
o Some medicines for breast cancer, prostate cancer, epilepsy and some antidepressants
• Thyroid conditions
• Some chronic diseases such as, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver or kidney disease
• Low physical activity
How can I strengthen my osteoporosis bones?
Being diagnosed with osteoporosis can lead to fear or avoidance of exercise, and sometimes movement in general. But what we know is that exercise is a vital stimulus for the development and maintenance of optimal bone strength & density.
When we move and exercise, this exerts forces on our bones. In response to these forces, the body will deposit extra calcium and other minerals in our bones to strengthen and protect them against these forces in the future. The body is continually remodelling and reforming bones, so it’s never too late to start. Not only is exercise great for bone health, it can also improve your strength & balance. Although improved strength & balance doesn’t increase the strength of the bones, it helps to prevent falls and fall related fractures.
What is the best exercise for osteoporosis?
Weight bearing exercise of moderate to high impact is best for exerting force on your bones. A great place to start is by changing your daily habits, for example, using the stairs instead of the lift, or parking further away and walking to your destination. It’s also important to do some more formal exercise as well. Exercise & Sports Siencce Australia have given recommendations that exercise to prevent and manage osteoporosis should include impact exercises, balance, and progressive resistance training.
Examples of high impact loading exercises;
• Jumping, bounding, hopping
• Heel drops, stomps, step ups
Examples progressive resistance training exercises:
• Resistance exercise using bands, free weights, machines or your body weight using muscles around your hip and spine
• Functional movements, such as sit to stands and heel raises
Balance Exercise examples:
• Standing one foot
• Tandem balance or walking
• Tai chi
• Stepping over & walking around obstacles
To have the greatest effect on bone density, exercise should be challenging. Over time it should gradually become harder; the weights should get heavier, and the impact should increase.
No matter your age or fitness level, an Exercise Physiologist can develop an exercise plan that is specific to your capabilities, and safely progress the program as you become fitter and stronger. If you are older, or don’t feel up to anything too intense, it’s ok to begin with a more gentle program, and this will still help to improve your bone health.
At myPhysioSA Adelaide we have private Fitness Studio’s which are fully equipped and supervised by Exercise Physiologists who will tailor a program just for you.
Call 1300 189 289 to enquire now!