How can exercise help Osteoporosis?

Within the human body, our bones are constantly absorbing and replacing tissue. With Osteoporosis, the new bone creation doesn’t keep up with the old bone removal leading to having low bone mineral density or weak and fragile bones. In addition, hormones play a massive role in our physiological makeup, especially in women. As women reach menopause, we see a dramatic reduction in estrogen, which has a protective effect on our bones throughout our entire life.

With this dramatic decrease in estrogen, we see an increase in the risk of falls and a reduction in add bone mineral density. Exercises that have been proven to help with our bone mineral density and increase it are resistance training in weights and impact loading. That can include weight training within the gym or plyometric training, for example, box jumps or step-ups.

How resistance training in the form of weights affects our bones? is when our muscles are contracting, pulling on either side of the bones, which creates minor micro damages to the bone. We have these processes within our bones to lay down new bone and increase our bone mineral density. While walking is a fantastic way to improve cardiovascular health, it’s not as essential as resistance training, especially for patients with Osteoporosis. A combination of the two, walking and resistance training, is crucial for managing our bone mineral density and cardiovascular health, emphasising weight training.

So what can you do to improve your bone mineral density if you have Osteoporosis? Coming in for an initial assessment with an exercise physiologist here at vector health is a great way to start. We will go through your medical history, we can do some physical checks to see where you’re at, we can have a look at bone mineral density scans you’ve had in the past, and we can go from there. As we advance, we would then create an individualised program based on your health and your goals. Suppose you weren’t interested in doing one on one sessions. In that case, we also have a Stronger for Longer group, which is designed explicitly by Exercise Physiologist’s or our Physiotherapist’s in maintaining bone health, physical fitness and overall quality of life.

We know Osteoporosis is very common as we age. Another condition you will quite commonly see as we age is Sarcopenia which can be defined as age-related muscle wasting. Essentially what that means is that as we age, our muscle mass declines, so what we look to do in our Stronger Longer classes is to prevent any further muscle wasting by adding weights and cardio exercises. Exercise has been proven to prevent further deterioration of your muscles as you age. After we turn 50 years old, studies have highlighted that you lose 30% of your total muscle mass every ten years. So while we won’t always be constantly adding to our muscles and looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, we want to prevent any further muscle wasting and keep you as independent as possible.

Jamie Saunders – Exercise physiologist

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