Osteoporosis – Why you want to avoid it and how we can help?

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One of the biggest misconceptions is that people with osteoporosis should not lift weights or partake in high-intensity exercise programs as they will break bones.  Another is that people with osteoporosis should only do low-impact exercises such as swimming and bike riding. But, these go against best practice for treating and preventing osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that silently steals bone mass. It’s a condition that, if left untreated, is progressive and gradually increases the risk of falls and fractures. Fortunately, bone is a living tissue, and it can be improved. Bone density can be improved through certain types of exercise.

Taking medication is important, but exercise and education are pivotal in the management of osteoporosis. Physios can support you to improve bone density, muscle mass, balance, fall risk, self-esteem and lifestyle choices.

An essential part of a physiotherapist’s management plan for people with osteoporosis is to include appropriate and effective load-bearing and resistance exercise.

Exercise is good for all ages to help strengthen bones, but it must be the right exercise, be carefully monitored, and the intensity must be gradually increased to avoid injury and gain maximum benefit.

Whilst low-impact exercises are good for overall cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, they are not the most effective exercise for bone strength.

A recent Australian study called the LIFTMOR trial proves that high-impact exercise and resistance training improves bone health, muscle strength and balance for those with low bone density.

Age is not a limiting factor, and even women in their eighties and nineties can lift weights to improve bone density.

 

What increases the risk of Osteoporosis

  • A family history,
  • being a female (due to hormone changes post-menopause)
  • medical conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, digestive malabsorption diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic kidney and liver diseases all increase risk of developing osteoporosis.

Genes are a significant factor when it comes to the risk of developing osteoporosis, lifestyle factors essentially make it happen.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle and do not exercise, you will lose more bone mass and develop brittle bones-osteoporosis.

Consuming a healthy diet with calcium-rich foods and ensuring the body has enough Vitamin D is also beneficial.

Smoking, excessive alcohol and caffeine intake are all factors we can control and change the risk of and reduce the progression of osteoporosis in our lives.

How to help – start young!!

Osteoporosis is a primary priority for women over age sixty, but it should be a consideration for all women and men in their twenties.

Bone density develops during childhood. It’s important to exercise as a child, especially during early puberty when bones are growing most rapidly

Bone growth slows for women in their late teens, and early twenties for men, and this is the time when you reach your peak bone mass. After reaching peak bone mass, it slowly decreases over time.

The main protective factors that minimise bone density loss include exercise and a healthy diet.

Exercise programs at SquareOne such as our clinical exercise program, our performance program and our GLAD program can all be developed top address your individual needs. Resistance exercise and having some exercises with higher impact are key to include when we are concerned about your bone density – which is for everyone as they age!

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