Osteoporosis and Exercise
Osteoporosis is derived from the English word “osteo” (meaning bone) and “poros” (meaning pore). Like the name suggests, this is a medical condition whereby the structure of bone becomes more brittle or fragile, and therefore, can increase the susceptibility of a person to fractures. This condition affects over 1 million Australians.
Bone density testing can be done to measure the bone density of a patient with suspected osteoporosis.
Is Osteoporosis a normal aging process?
Whilst it is more common in the older age groups due to a normal reduction in bone mass, osteoporosis is not a normal part of aging. Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone mass and density which is significantly beyond the normal ranges seen in the general population.
What is the difference between Osteoporosis and Osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a loss of bone density and mass, however, at a lesser degree to osteoporosis. Osteopenia can develop into osteoporosis.
What causes Osteoporosis?
There are multiple factors which may increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, such as a deficiency in Estrogen, vitamin D or calcium. Additionally, low levels of physical activity can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis as loading is an essential part of bone health.
Is Osteoporosis preventable?
To some extent, the prevention of osteoporosis can occur from the behavioral patterns set earlier in life. As bone health can be impacted by diet and physical activity levels, our level of activity and nutrition earlier in life can dictate our likelihood of developing osteoporosis. Healthy bone requires appropriate loading, and therefore, setting up healthy habits earlier in life can reduce our chances of developing osteoporosis.
Exercise for Osteoporosis
Exercise is one of the first line treatments of Osteoporosis, alongside medications such as biphosphates. Impact and resistance exercises are recommended for people with osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise puts load through our body, and therefore stimulates osteogenesis (the formation of bone).
Yoga has also been shown to be great for people with osteoporosis as it improves strength and balance. It can reduce the risk of falling in older people, and therefore reduce their risk of fractures. Furthermore, it allows people to build strength in their muscles and load their bones in a safe manner.
People with osteoporosis must fuel their body with the appropriate nutrition to accompany the exercise for maximum benefits. This is where seeking advice from a dietitian is useful.
I have Osteoporosis, how can I get started with exercise?
Our physiotherapists can help you get into exercise safely. At The Movement Workshop, we offer Clinical Exercise which is targeted to work towards your personal goals.
References & Acknowledgements:
Image: Endocrine Associates Dallas
Australian Physiotherapy Association. (2nd of August 2021). Physiotherapy and bone health. InMotion: The Australian Physiotherapy Association Magazine. Retrieved from https://australian.physio/inmotion/physiotherapy-and-bone-health
Benedetti MG, Furlini G, Zati A, Letizia Mauro G. The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Dec 23;2018:4840531. doi: 10.1155/2018/4840531. PMID: 30671455; PMCID: PMC6323511.