Osteoporosis affects 4.74 million Australian’s over 50 and is expected to rise due to our aging population. It is well known that exercise contributes to many physiological and psychological benefits however when we have conditions such as Osteoporosis it can be difficult to know what to do. Exercise is just as important to complete when we have Osteoporosis due to the loading effect on bones which decreases the risk of fractures.

However not all exercise is beneficial for the condition as some exercises can cause more harm than good, so it is important to seek information from a trained professional. This post will define Osteoporosis; risk factors associated with the condition and the importance of exercise to manage the condition and improve bone health.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition which occurs when necessary minerals such as calcium are not replenished sufficiently to maintain bone strength. The bone tissue becomes deteriorated, bones become less dense, brittle and strength is compromised leading to an increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis can be known as a silent condition as there are not usually any symptoms until a fracture occurs. Following the fracture, the individual has a 2.5 times increased risk of fracture within the next 12 months. The hips, spine and wrists are most commonly fractured. Osteoporosis decreases bone strength, reduces quality of life and impacts overall health and well-being if it is not addressed correctly.

Why is it important to manage?

It is important to be aware of your bone health as fractures can have detrimental effects. A bone mineral density assessment can be completed using a DEXA machine and the results from the test correlate to a T score which indicates your risk of Osteoporosis.

Fractures can lead to disability, loss of function, pain, decreased independence, decreased quality of life and premature death. Current research suggests 3.5% of men and 14.6% of women will have a hip fracture after the age of 50. Therefore, the need for management is essential to reduce the risk of these fractures. Those individuals who exercise have been found to decrease their risk of fractures by 45%.

Risk factors which may put you at a high risk include:

  • Gender, Women are at a higher risk
  • Family history of Osteoporosis
  • Low calcium intake and vitamin D level
  • Medical history such as low hormone levels, corticosteroids, rheumatoid arthritis, malabsorption diseases, cancer medications
  • Lifestyle factors such as low physical activity level, smoking, alcohol consumption weight

Exercise and Osteoporosis

Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective lifestyle interventions to decrease your risk of fractures.

Exercise plays a vital role in the prevention and management of Osteoporosis due to the bone tissue’s ability to adapt to stimulus therefore increasing bone loading.

Exercise should be regular, challenging, progressive, varied and performed in short bouts for benefits to occur. The following 3 principles should be considered when completing exercise for Osteoporosis:

  • Progressive resistance training (2 days per week, 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions, avoid spinal flexion)
  • Impact loading (4-7 days per week, moderate to high impact jumping and landing avoid spinal flexion)
  • Balance training (4 days per week, more than 10 seconds, vary the difficulty of the exercise)

Exercise positions to avoid

  • Spinal Flexion
  • Twisting of the spine
  • Rapid movements

It is important to note that exercise selection and technique is pivotal at reducing your risk of injury and therefore it is recommended that the exercises are completed supervised by an Exercise Physiologist. These are just guidelines and each person’s medical history and current health may vary exercise prescription.

To summarise Osteoporosis decreases the bone mineral density leading to fractures.

Risk factors can increase your likelihood of the condition, early intervention and management is essential and exercise is most effective when an individualised exercise program is implemented.

 

Exercise Physiologists are university trained professionals who can prescribe these programs to help:

  • Improve bone mass density through impact loading
  • Decrease the risk of falls
  • Reduce the risk of fractures
  • Improve mobility
  • Improve quality of life and independence

What to do now?

If you or a friend are suffering from Osteoporosis give us a call at Generation Physio and Allied Health, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients. All of our clinicians are mobile and come to your home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation today.


Article Written By Stacey Talbot

Exercise Physiologist – North Brisbane

Stacey has utilised her skill and clinical knowledge across a number of fields including cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, neurological conditions, mental health, chronic pain, cancer, metabolic and musculoskeletal conditions, high performance sport and injury prevention.

Stacey is passionate about prescribing safe, effective and individualised evidence-based exercise protocols to improve health outcomes, reach client goals and improve quality of life. Stacey enjoys educating clients on their condition and ways to self manage in the future.

 


References

Beck BR, et al. Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) position statement on exercise prescription for the prevention and management of osteoporosis. J Sci Med Sport (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2016.10.001

Khashayar, P. (2017). Literature Overview. Point-of-Care Solution for Osteoporosis Management, 17-51. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-55053-4_2

Okamoto, T. (2012). Osteoporosis and Arterial Stiffness: Effects of Exercise Training. Osteoporosis. doi:10.5772/29631

Russell, G. (2006). Pathogenesis of Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis and the Osteoporosis of Rheumatic Diseases, 33-40. doi:10.1016/b978-0-323-03437-1.50012-9

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