Following on from the topic on the benefits of exercise irrespective of weight loss; this week we are delving into the benefits of exercise for the prevention and management of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them. As a result, the bones become thinner and less dense, so much that a minor bump or fall can cause serious fractures. The most common fracture sites are the spine, hip, upper arm and wrists. Osteoporosis often has no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens – this is why osteoporosis it is often called the ‘silent disease.’
Did you know that bone loss accelerates up to 2-4% per year at the onset of menopause?
Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis then men, but certain conditions and medications can have an impact on your bone health, such as corticosteroids.
Early detection is key to implement a specific exercise program to help decrease the rate of progression. Osteopenia is the term used for low bone density, and is the stage before osteoporosis – a severe weakness of the bones.
There are three types of exercise that can maintain bone strength by slowing the rate of bone loss:
1. Weight-bearing exercise e.g. brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing.
2. Progressive resistance training e.g. lifting weights that become more challenging over time.
3. Balance training e.g. standing on one leg on an unsteady surface, heel-to-toe walking.
Weight-bearing activities and resistance training help to maintain bone density by stimulating new bone tissue to form. In rare cases, Longevity clients have seen a slight improvement of their T-score* of up to 5%. Resistance training requires muscles to contract and this places stress on the related bones. The bones strengthen as they adapt to the extra strain. It is important to target muscle groups around areas that are most vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures to help support bones and joints.
Although balance training does not directly improve bone or muscle strength, it helps to reduce the risk of falls and therefore fractures.
Swimming and cycling are both low impact activities that are not specifically beneficial for bone health, but they are beneficial for general health and fitness.
To prevent and manage osteoporosis it is recommended that a combination of weight-bearing exercise, supervised progressive resistance training and challenging balance exercises, be performed at least 3 times per week. Sometimes, other co-morbidities are present and it is difficult to adhere to the above guidelines i.e running if you have knee pain, therefore it will be beneficial to speak to a team member at Longevity to create a plan that will work best for you.
*T-score measures how closely your bone density compares to that of an average 30 year old of the same sex.
Written by Courtney Maher