Osteoporosis is a common condition affecting over 1 million Australians; approximately 80% women and 60% men. The condition is characterised by low bone mass and progressive structural weakening leaving the bone porous. It occurs when bones lose minerals faster than they can be replaced, leaving the bone structure brittle and at risk of fracture.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Being over 50 years old
- Being a female due to rapid decline in oestrogen during menopause
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Low vitamin D and calcium levels
- Certain medications
- Endocrine conditions such as diabetes mellitus
- Lifestyle factors like smoking, low physical activity, low body weight, etc.
Osteopaenia and osteoporosis can be prevented or treated by addressing the relevant risk factors (see above). Nutritional & behavioural changes as well as appropriately prescribed exercise programs are the most common prevention strategies for people affected by bone demineralisation.
The best types of exercise to participate in when preventing osteoporosis aim to increase bone remodelling and strength. These include weight bearing exercise, as well as resistance and/or weights training.
According to Exercise Right Australia, only 17% of adults aged over 65 are meeting the recommended exercise guidelines. This is an alarming statistic, considering most people affected by osteopaenia and osteoporosis fall in this age group.
An estimated 6% of falls result in a fracture and around one third of people aged 65 have a fall each year. Falls can be associated with poor muscle strength and balance problems; all the more reason to participate in regular exercise that targets muscle strengthening and motor control.
Furthermore, exercise must be performed regularly and ongoing in order for it to have an effect on the bone structure. Osteoporosis Australia recommends that exercise should be performed under the following guidelines:
- Performed at least 3 times per week
- Slowly progressed load over time i.e. increase heaviness of weight, or height of jump
- Exercises must be varied during sessions
- Performed in short, intense bursts
Exercise must also be carefully tailored to the person depending on the area of the body affected. For example, a person with an osteoporotic vertebral fracture in the thoracic or lumbar spine may be at risk of further injury with loaded flexion based exercise i.e. an abdominal crunch.
This is why, at Complete Health, we perform a thorough assessment before clients begin our Clinical Exercise program. The results from these assessments allow us to clinically determine what exercises may or may not be appropriate for the patient’s condition according to their results and how they are feeling. All of our programs involve weights and resistance training as well as balance and coordination-type exercises; these can all be tailored specifically depending on the capabilities and needs of the patient.
Written by Dr Jena Chang (Osteopath)Leave a reply →