What is osteoporosis: osteoporosis is a bone disease which weakens bones and increases the risk of fracture. This occurs when bones lose more minerals such as calcium faster than the body can replace them. Bone is in a constant state of regeneration, removing old bone and replacing it with new bone. As we get older the body’s ability to replace bone slows down, therefore bones become weaker and thinner. The most common bones affected are the hips, spine and wrist.
Who is affected – although more prevalent as we age, this is a condition that can affect all ages. Certain other groups can also be affected, such as those with absorption issues, for example Crohn’s and celiac disease. Young female athletes are at particular risk due to the hormonal affects that heavy training can create.
Bone density is therefore a life-long commitment. From childhood, through adolescence focus needs to be on performing regular exercise that includes impact loading, such as gymnastics or squash. If neither of these appeal then impact aerobic based exercise is good such as step or grit classes run in many of the gyms.
As we go through our 20s, 30s and 40s it is important to continue with this regular impact loading. It should be noted that running is not considered a high impact activity. It does indeed have a greater osteogenic (bone creating) affect than walking, but it is not as good as jumping related activity.
Impact loading is one component of bone density exercise but this should also be coupled with heavier strength training. This means heavier weights and less reps, 6-8 reps to fatigue as opposed to something where you are repeating the exercise for 15-20 reps of a few minutes.
Bones are very sensitive and need variation – this means that you need to change your program regularly to get the optimal bone building affect. Consider varying your program at least every 6-8 weeks.
Post-menopausally things change - oestrogen drops affecting many things including your ability to maintain muscle mass. Your ability to absorb vitamin D is also affected, reducing and therefore putting bones at risk. Remember, similar oestrogen drops occur with pregnancy and breast feeding, so this is another group at risk of bone density reduction.
Focus remains on impact based exercise, however focus on increasing muscle mass also becomes extremely important. This helps to support the bones should you fall and can directly help in maintaining bone density. Balance training becomes integral – this must be done safely. However to have best results the balance exercises must be challenging.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation website has some great reading if you would like to arm yourself with a bit more information.
At Physiologix, join our osteopororsis classes to build on exercises essential in helping with osteoporosis, either for management or prevention. We can also write a home program using a video app if you are up to the technology - this allows you to watch your home exercise videos as often as you want in your own time at home, ensuring you have got the exercise right. Miriam Dillon (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist), working here at Physiologix, has a special interest in bone density so for more complex situations you can book in with her to learn more.
Call us on (07) 3511 1112 or contact us from our website physiologix.com.au