But the real culprit could be something more sinister…
Osteoporosis is often a silent disease. Although there are machines that are able to detect brittle bones and one’s risk of developing this disease, there is usually no warning until an osteoporotic fracture actually occurs. But research shows that an exercise-based approach can lessen the chances of this occurring.
Who can be affected?
We lose bone mass at a rate of approximately 1% per year from the time we hit 35 years old. But if you’re a woman, this rate increases to 2-3% after the age of 65. This is when the female body goes through various hormonal changes during menopause, and oestrogen levels taper off. As this hormone is particularly important in protecting against a loss of bone mineral density, the odds of developing osteoporosis in this age group are twice more likely in women compared to their male counterparts.
But regardless of gender, ensuring that our bones remain healthy is especially crucial as we age. In the worst case scenario, an osteoporotic fracture can result in a vicious cycle of long-standing pain and deconditioning, decreased mobility, a loss of independence and the risk of more falls.
This means that prevention is the first line of defence, and the risk cannot be prevented by diet and supplementation alone. Plenty of research has been done to study the effects of exercise on bone health, in particular, activities that involve weight-bearing, as the foot’s contact with the ground allows for the bone to be loaded.
Some types of exercise are more ideal than others when it comes to increasing bone mineral density. For example, playing tennis is better than swimming, as the buoyancy present in water prevents the loading of bone in this environment. There is also no difference when it comes to high-impact activities, such as running, over lower-impact exercises, such as walking, as both require the foot to strike the ground. But this is where personal preferences and physical capabilities come into play. Activities that involve a lot of jumping may exacerbate the wear and tear of arthritis joints or increase the likelihood of injury, unless you are already conditioned for the sport.
As such, research points to strength training as the gold standard for increasing bone density, in addition to its other positive effects on strength and balance. Its benefits on bone health easily surpass that of prescription drugs, or any other intervention.
So in addition to performing exercises that maintain cardiovascular fitness, it is recommended to include at least twice a week of strengthening exercises that work through the whole body. At Strive Physio, we can equip you with advice and guidance on how to increase or maintain your bone mineral density, in addition to providing you with a comprehensive exercise program that specifically targets muscle groups along the spine and the hip – common sites of osteoporotic fractures. We can also recommend gentler exercise options if you require this.
In Gladstone osteoporosis can be helped by the experts at Strive Physio. Book an appointment today. 07 4978 7868 or see reception at Gladstone GP Superclinic.