06 Feb Osteoporosis, Exercise and You.
“You’ve got Osteoporosis”
…is a sentence which can be incredibly scary for many women and men to hear (Osteoporosis affects approximately 1.2 million Aussies). Mainly because more often than not you don’t feel sick, or like you have a disease. This is why Osteoporosis can be referred to as the silent disease, showing no obvious symptoms until (some times) it’s too late and you’ve suffered a fracture. If you’re over the age of 65 a bone fracture is no simple injury, it can unfortunately become life threatening, not to mention commonly robbing individuals of their independence (be it temporarily or for an extended period).
Today, Clarity Exercise Physiologist Erin Parish sheds some more light on how to manage and support this all-too-common condition
So what exactly is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis (or, osteopenia – early onset low bone density) is a disease which effects the bones. Bones lose density through loss of minerals, calcium being the primary one, at a rate which the body cannot replace it. This results in bones becoming weaker, more porous and more susceptible to fractures and breaks.
Osteoporosis more commonly effects post-menopausal women, this is due to the changes in hormones which impact the bodies ability to maintain bone mass. Now ladies, if we have poor bone density to begin with – which can occur for a number of reasons which I’ll outline shortly, this means in a very general way…we’ve got less to lose. Which isn’t great, and is why we can be unaware to our potential risk of developing Osteoporosis.
A little bit about bone density…
Our bones reach their peak density at around the age of 25, so if we are not consuming a balanced diet and obtaining sufficient amounts of bone density promoting minerals and keeping active our overall bone density may be compromised. Lifestyle choices such as excessive drinking, smoking and consuming high levels of caffeine can also impact our bodies ability to absorb bone strengthening minerals. Another higher risk group are young women who, during this peak age of bone density growth, begin experimenting with diets and very restrictive eating. At the time these young women are most likely not considering their risk for osteoporosis – however their choices now, do impact bone density later.
What can we do about this…?
Well, there are many excellent treatments and management protocols for Osteoporosis these days. One that I am oh-so very passionate about it utilizing exercise. Exercise targets 2 key components of the management of osteoporosis (and some other wonderful general health and lifestyle benefits too!)
Management of bone density AND reducing the risk of falling
Weight baring exercise is crucial for the growth and development of bones, and, the maintenance of bone density as we age. When we load muscles and move limbs through a full range of motion this places stress on bones. Which is a good thing! This signals to the bones (your body) that they need to keep up with the demands being placed on them and either stay or become stronger. Pretty cool right?
Obviously lifting weights if you know you have low bone density can be incredibly daunting, I understand that, it is a very common fear that I’ve seen time and again in the clinic. Lifting weights IS possible at any age, plus it is also safe if you have expert guidance, and it is also necessary if you want to successfully manage Osteoporosis.
Participating in weight-baring exercise is also fantastic for increasing your general strength and endurance – which reduce your risk of succumbing to a fall. Reducing the risk of falls in Osteoporosis sufferers is just as important as maintaining bone density. If you can improve your balance, confidence on unstable surfaces and response to trips you are also limiting your exposure to fracturing bones due to falling. Commonly bones break after someone takes a tumble, not as the reason someone takes a tumble.
In my experience improvements to balance come about quickly with very simple exercises that anyone can do. I absolutely love sharing in your amazement as you confidently stand on one leg for the first time in years. This truly is why I do what I do – the simple things.
If you would like to know more about how Erin can help you manage your Osteoporosis, low bone density, or help to reduce your risk of fall please consider a 1:1 assessment or join her specific Osteoporosis classes here at Clarity: Strength | Bones | Balance
Here’s to NOT being limited or overwhelmed by Osteoporosis!