Exercise should be a natural part of our lives at any age. It is particularly important in maintaining healthy bones and in combating osteoporosis. So, exercise can not only improve your bone health, it also helps with our balance and coordination, while building muscle strength. The result is improved health overall.
Osteoporosis is a condition where calcium and other minerals are leached from a person’s bones. This, in turn, makes those bones susceptible to fractures. Today, around half of all women and one-third of men In Australia over 60 years of age suffer from osteoporosis. Women are more likely to show signs of osteoporosis as menopauses hormonal changes accelerate bone loss.
The Perils of Bone Loss
Exercise can also help people who already have osteoporosis. Our modern sedentary lifestyle contributes to the erosion of bone mass. Regular exercise can slow down the rate of bone loss, reducing it significantly.
Most bone fractures are the result of a fall. Improving your balance and building your muscle strength through exercise can reduce your chances of suffering a fall.
How People With Osteoporosis Benefit From Exercise
Weak muscle tone, poor balance and poor posture coupled with a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of fractures. If you suffer from osteoporosis, exercising can greatly improve your overall health by:
- Reducing bone loss
- Conserving remaining bone mass and tissue
- Improving physical fitness
- Improving muscle tone and strength
- Improving reaction times
- Enhancing mobility
- Greater levels of coordination and balance
- Lowering the risk of bone fractures due to falls
- Lower pain levels
- Improved levels of vitality and enhanced mood.
Enjoy The Right Types Of Exercise
There are specific exercises which directly improve bone strength. Our bones become stronger when extra strain or a certain amount of impact force is placed on them. Some recommended exercises for improved bone health include:
- Weight-bearing aerobic exercise completed on your feet such as jogging, stair climbing and brisk walks
- Progressive resistance training lifting weights that are increased gradually over time
- Moderate to high impact weight-bearing exercises such as tennis, basketball, dancing, skipping and jumping
- Mobility and balance exercises can help to reduce the incidences of falls such as heel-to-toe walking and standing on one leg with the eyes closed.
Regular weight-bearing exercises including some exercises at moderate to high impact levels together with regular resistance training is highly recommended. The contribution an exercise makes towards building bone mass usually depends on the specific way stress is applied to the existing bone during each exercise.
Regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle as well as helping fight off the onset of osteoporosis. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regime. Check with qualified Exercise Physiologists or physiotherapists for expert guidance on the right exercises for you. Similarly, consult a dietitian or your GP about options for increasing your calcium, vitamin D and levels of other key nutrients in your diet. Avoid excessive alcohol intake and where possible, quit smoking, which is bad for your bones. Begin your exercise program with moderate levels of activity and progressively increase the levels of activity. Exercising too vigorously too quickly can increase your potential risk of injury, including fractures.