No bones about it..

November 9, 2018

In 2018 there will be over 16,5000 broken bones due to osteoporosis in Australia. Osteoporosis (OP) is a condition where the bone become brittle and fragile. OP is often referred  to as a “silent disease” due to the lack of symptoms it displays – often none until a fracture occurs. 1.2 million Australians are diagnosed with osteoporosis with over a half of women and a third of men over the age of 60 being affected. Individuals who are inactive have a whopping 56% greater chance of suffering a fracture due to OP compared to those who remain active.

Recent research has indicated appropriate strength based training programs to be as effective, if not more effective, as prescription based drugs at strengthening  bones and reducing fracture risk.

However, before you go and sign up to your local gym or put on your runners there are a few things you need to be mindful of when exercising with osteoporosis. Due to the increased fracture risk, loaded rotational movements should be avoided and, depending on the severity of bone decay, high impact activities should not be prescribed.

Finally, prevention is better than treatment! I often hear clients say “I wish I had of known about this 5 – 10 years ago”, so if you are anywhere between the ages of 20-50 and reading  this, consider your current activity levels and the impact this may have on your long term health. Remember 30-40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day is recommended to stay healthy. The type of activity is also important when considering osteoporosis management and prevention, weight bearing exercises are a key component of any OP program as they assist in the process of strengthening bone. Further, improving muscular strength and balance reduces falls risk and the associated fracture risk.

I recently read a study that compared bone density of athletes and how their sports impacted on this. The study was conducted on cricketers, cyclists and gymnasts who were considered “elite” in their respective sports. The study found that the type of activity performed had a great influence on bone density. For example, despite being elite athletes cyclists participating in the study were shown to have significantly lower bone density compared to cricketers and gymnasts. Why? It is thought to be due to the lack of weight bearing and the low impact nature of cycling.

As we know, exercise strengthens our muscles and bones, improves balance and thus reduces ones falls and fracture risk. Increasing your bone density and reducing your falls risk through balance and strength based exercise has been proven to reduce fractures by up to 95% which is very impressive considering bone restoring medications on their own only display a 40% reduction.

Get in touch with one of our Exercise Physiologists who can take you though a full screen screening and assessment to prescribe you a safe and appropriate exercise program.


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