What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects over 1 million Australians. It’s when the bones become porous and brittle, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, particularly calcium, quicker than the body can replace them.
- Women going through early menopause, or men with low testosterone levels
- Low intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Prolonged use of some medications;
- Corticosteroids; these are often used for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
- 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 Exercise Can Help
Being diagnosed with osteoporosis can lead to fear or avoidance of exercise, and sometimes movement in general. But what we know is that exercise can not only be preventative against osteoporosis, it can also be restorative.
If you don’t have osteoporosis, these steps can be taken to maintain strong, healthy bones to prevent osteoporosis.
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 balance. Although improved balance doesn’t increase the strength of the bones, it helps to prevent falls and fall related fractures.
What type of exercise is best?
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.
Examples of high impact weight bearing exercises;
- Jogging or running
Examples of moderate impact weight bearing exercises;
- Resistance exercise using bands, free weights, machines or your body weight
- Functional movements, such as sit to stands and heel raises
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 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!
Courtney Wharton, myPhysioSA Exercise Phsiologist