Osteoporosis is when the bones are weaker than desired. Bone Mineral Density is a rating of bone strength. Bone mineral density tests are completed like an x-ray, to assess bone strength and risk of future fractures. The picture taken is compared to normative data (other people of the same age and gender). Osteoporosis can be halted and even reversed through exercise.
Our bone mass typically peaks between the ages of 25-30 years. With many factors impacting throughout the lifespan which can both improve and reduce our bone strength.
There are some factors in which we cannot change including gender, age (and menopause onset age), previous falls, fractures, and loss of height.
Things that we can alter include exercise habits, diet (increase calcium, decrease alcohol), smoking cessation, and increased time spent in the sun.
With all health factors, it is not straight forward, and many conditions can make someone more susceptible to a lower bone density. These include early menopause, treatment of breast cancer, renal or liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, overactive parathyroid or thyroid, and issues with absorbing nutrients.
The good news is exercise is helpful with all of the above concerns (except early menopause).
How to exercise with osteoporosis?
The number one consideration is to include weight-bearing exercise safely.
Walking, running, dance, gym work (aerobics classes, gym-machines, free weights), tennis, basketball, jumping on a trampoline, stairs, even Tai Chi!
There are plenty of options for exercise so choosing something you enjoy is always key to sticking to the plan!
If you can do all that, what wouldn’t be so helpful?
Activities involving no or minimal “ground reaction forces” or impact. Such as swimming, cycling, mat Pilates, or the gym elliptical/ cross-trainer machine. These are still GREAT ways to exercise, and if one of these is your love, you do not have to cut it out. Aim to add in some more weight-bearing activities into your regime.
How much exercise should I do?
30-minutes on at LEAST 5 days of the week.
If you have other health conditions such as diabetes, or heart disease, seek advice from your GP before commencing a new exercise program.
And if you are still uncertain where to start, reach out to an exercise professional