Osteoporosis is one of the least-discussed, under-diagnosed and under-treated conditions in Australia, with nearly two-thirds of Australians over the age of 50 suffering from low bone mass. With an increase in the incidence of osteoporotic fractures over the past two decades, it could be an indication that there is a decrease in bone quality from generation to generation with a lack of physical activity thought to play a major role.
As bone is a dynamic tissue with the capacity to adapt to changing load requirements, exercise along with a good diet and adequate sunlight has been shown as a vital stimulus for the growth and maintenance of optimum bone strength throughout life. Recent research indicates that programmed physical activity as a standalone treatment is just as effective as anti-osteoporotic medications for maintaining, or improving bone mineral density, with a combination of exercise and medication having best long term outcomes.
Research, along with our long term anecdotal experience indicates that a variety of activities and exercises should be undertaken to promote increased bone mass whilst reducing fracture risk such as those suffered from falls. In addition, varied physical activity helps maintain exercise adherence whilst having beneficial effects on a person’s quality of life such as increased fitness, weight loss and reduced pain symptoms.
For clients with osteoporosis or osteopenia, we recommend performing daily weight bearing activities such as walking, running, hopping or jumping to increase impact loading and stimulate bone growth, and regular strength and resistance exercises to improve functionality and reduce pain levels. We also recommend including exercises that focus on correcting posture and improve balance to reduce falls risk.
Overall, a well-balanced program for osteoporotic clients should be one not only improves bone mass, strength and balance, but one that alleviates associated pain, improves ones psychological well-being and takes into consideration an individual’s personal interests, exercise preference and goals to maximise adherence and long-term program outcomes.
An example session for a person with low bone mass may include:
To find out more about how we may assist you with osteoporosis or reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis, please contact one of our team members today.
Brodie Gardner has a Masters in Exercise Physiology, Honours in Sports Science and competes as a professional triathlete. He has a long history working with elite athletes and has provided consultation services to numerous Australian sporting associations.