50% of women have osteoporosis at 70 years of age. This is compared to men where about a third are affected. Most of this deterioration occurs with changes in oestrogen levels at menopause, where bones lose calcium and other minerals at a much faster rate.
So how do we get best bone density before menopause to set us up for better health later in life?
The latest evidence suggests the optimum time to increase bone mass in girls is in the years following menarche (the onset of oestrogen production and menstruation). There is as much bone laid down in the four years following this onset as is lost post menopause. This is when we really need to be ensuring our kids are exercising but it correlates to a time when a lot of girls become very image conscious and often reduce or cease exercising as a result. We have to try and keep them active and get them doing whatever they enjoy - we are setting them up for a nightmare in old age if we don’t’.
What are the most effective interventions for the post menopausal of us?
A huge component is better balance – if you don’t fall you are much less likely to break bones. This may be as simple as standing on one leg at different times in the day – there are so many great balance exercises you can try. Understanding risks of falling can also help prevent a disastrous fall.
Strength and resistance training, as well as impact forms of exercise, have got the best evidence for bone health. Unfortunately as people try to do things to help themselves they often do too much too soon and end up here at the physio with an injury…..
then they cant exercise at all, not exactly the outcome we wanted! As with taking up any new form of exercise, or progressing your program to include harder exercises, the secret is to progress slowly and carefully, performing your exercises correctly. If niggles start, get into the physio fast and nip them in the bud early!
Other things to consider!
Continence issues – one of the huge problems with exercising in women is continence issues. Running, jumping and straining with weights that are too heavy can put more stress on already weakened muscles and tissue creating further problems. It is so important that you address these weaknesses to prevent existing conditions worsening, or indeed, creating a new problem that wasn’t there before. Megan Bergman (physiotherapist) is our women’ s health expert and can help lead you through a program best suited for your all over health and needs, whatever issues you may have. Addressing weaknesses such as poor pelvic floor control could help you towards far better long term health and wellbeing.
Should you have any queries, or want to see our women’s health physio please call us any time or make a booking. You can contact Physiologix, upstairs at the Gap Health and Racquet Club, on (07) 3511 1112 or email us from our website physiologix.com.au