Bone health is not something we start to think about until we get older or have a specific problem but is something which is gaining more and more attention in medical research.
Bone density starts to decrease very gradually when a person reaches their 30-40s. In women from the age of 45 years, bone loss begins to increase to 1-2% per year. Bone loss accelerates up to 2-4% per year at the onset of menopause. After 75 years of age, further increases in bone loss occur in both sexes, especially from the neck of the femur (hip). The risk of fracture increases as bone loss increases.
So as you can see, it is important to start to pay attention to your bone health from your 30’s and 40’s. So what should you do?
Regular physical activity and exercise is recognised as one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to maximise peak bone mass and to reduce the risk of fractures later in life.
Regular weight-bearing exercise (such as hill walking, jogging, box jumps, step ups, tennis, basketball) and progressive resistance training (of specific muscles) can increase bone density and prevent bone loss associated with menopause and ageing. As you get older, high challenging balance and mobility training is also effective for improving balance, gait and co-ordination, which can reduce the risk of falling. Exercise can also help speed rehabilitation following a fracture. Leisure walking on its own is not recommended as an adequate strategy for bone health although it has benefit for general health and fitness.
Not sure where to start? Here is a summary of what sort of exercise you should be doing for your bone health at each stage in your life:
Healthy adults: Regular participation in a variety of weight-bearing activities and progressive resistance training for at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week. AVOID prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour.
Post menopausal women and middle aged men: Participation in a multi-modal exercise regimen inclusive of moderate-high impact weight-bearing exercise (eg: 50-100 jumps) and high intensity progressive resistance training at least 3 times per week.
Older adults and people at risk of osteoporosis: Participation in multi-modal and supervised exercise programs that include weight-bearing activities, progressive resistance training and challenging balance and functional activities, at least 3 times per week.
Frail and elderly: Include a combination of progressive resistance training and balance exercises to reduce falls and risk factors for frailty.
Osteoporosis: Include a combination of weight-bearing exercise with supervised progressive resistance training and challenging balance and mobility exercises, performed at least 3 times per week. AVOID forward flexion (bending over holding object, sit ups with straight legs) and twisting of the spine as this can increase risk of anterior vertebral compression fractures.
Osteoporosis – post fracture: Exercise is an important part of rehabilitation.
So what to do now? Book in to see a SquareOne Physio who can get you started on an exercise program to suit your situation and your bone health. For those aged 65 and over Sophie runs a Strength and Falls exercise class on a Tuesday and Thursday which is exactly what is recommended above.
Contact our friendly reception team on 9968 3424 for an appointment or an information pack on our Falls classes.