Can Exercise be used as Medicine for people with Osteoporosis or Low bone-density

Can exercise be used as medicine for people with Osteoporosis?

The International Osteoporosis Foundation statistics show that worldwide, 1 in 3 women and1 in 5 men aged over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures. More than 8.9 million osteoporotic fractures are reported annually, which is a result of an osteoporotic fracture occurring every 3 seconds. Osteoporotic fractures occur from minimal impact trauma, with the most common sites for fractures being the vertebrae, hip and forearm. Common risk factors for developing osteoporosis include, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, aging, insufficient vitamin D and calcium intake, genetics, poor balance and coordination, low body weight and being post menopausal.

Vector Health, through Student Exercise Physiologist, Molly McNamara recently ran a specialised low bone-density program to help patients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, osteopenia or low bone-density.

The purpose of the program was to:

            1.  Educate individuals about osteoporosis and the risk factors associated with the condition.

            2. Help manage the condition through specific exercise such as balance, weight bearing and resistance training.

Before beginning the program all individuals participated in an initial assessment. This was to determine their individual goals and current activity levels to assist with the program design.

Each session involves:

Education Component:

            This includes a discussion about what is osteoporosis, risk factors for osteoporosis, falls prevention, benefits of exercise and specific exercises to avoid. 

Balance and Weight Bearing Exercises:

            Including: Stork stands, half squats, stomping, heel and toe walks, tandem stand and walking ladder patterns.

Resistance Circuit:

            Exercise examples include: Sit to stands, standing rows, step-ups, calf raises, lunges, leg extensions and leg curls. Each session 10 resistance exercises are performed in a circuit where 1-minute is completed at each exercise station.

So, how does exercise help people with low bone density? 

Throughout our lifetime our bones are constantly remodelling and adapting to changing physical demands. When our bone is subjected to higher then usual loads, such as uncustomed exercise, our bone will adapt by becoming stronger and increasing its mass. Both weight bearing activities and resistance training will provided the body with a mechanical stimulus that will help counter bone loss. In addition, activities that focus on balance and coordination are also important. Improving balance and coordination enhance our neuromuscular pathways resulting in a reduced risk of falls. This is particularly important for individuals with low bone density, as reduced risk of falls will reduce the risk of an osteoporotic fracture.

For example, why do you do jumping, stamping, resistance, balance training with people with low bone density? 

One of the women who participated in this program said:

‘I have enjoyed the osteoporosis program and the variety of exercises we performed each session. The educational component of the program has increased my osteoporosis awareness and I am now aware of the specific movements that I should avoid with osteoporosis. It was great how all the participants involved got to have their own input and share their own experiences. I enjoyed the challenge that came with the program of having a goal to achieve. My goal was to get on and off the floor, which I have now achieved.  My confidence of getting onto the floor has increased and I have recently cleaned out a cupboard that involved me getting onto the ground. I would have never been able to do this without this program. I have also seen improvements in my balance, coordination and strength. I always feel good at the end of each session and feel like I have done something valuable with my time. I have really enjoyed the program and would love to see it continue.’ 

(Article written by Molly McNamara, edited by Glenn Hansen)

Special Offer for 2016

Molly McNamara starts with Vector Health in January 2016.  Molly is passionate about helping people improve quality of life through structured exercise and this program for 2016 will kickstart you if you are struggling with any bone density, osteopaenia or osteoporosis conditions.  We will show you how to exercise to improve your quality of life and help your confidence in doing every day tasks! 

You can register here for the program now and reserve your spot! There are only 10 spots available for the after work program and 12 spots for the off-peak (10am) program so get in quick! 


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