What is osteoporosis?
Our body contains cells that help build bone and cells that break down bone. Osteoporosis is a condition where more bone is broken down than built up, leading to a reduction in bone density and strength. As seen in the image to the right, osteoporosis places people at a higher risk of bone fracture. The term osteopenia is used for bones that are weaker than normal, but are not yet a significant risk of fracture. This condition is normal for the general population as we age. Osteoporosis can commonly affect people over ~50 years of age and is more common in women than men.
Why is it important to manage?
Given the increased risk of breaks and fractures it is important for people with osteoporosis to increase their bone strength as best as possible to avoid fractures occurring . It is also important to reduce the risk of falling as falls are a major source of fractures and admissions to hospital.
How does exercise help?
Exercise can help to both improve our bone strength and to reduce the risk of falls. Resistance and weight-bearing exercise is important in stimulating the cells that build bone to help maintain or increase our bone strength. Resistance exercises will also help with increasing our muscle strength which helps improve balance as well as overall function with daily activities.
What are the exercise guidelines?
It is suggested that we complete twice weekly resistance and impact exercise sessions (approximately 30 minutes and ideally guided by an exercise professional). These sessions can include exercises such as squats, step ups, skipping & hopping.
For balance exercises it is recommended we complete up to four exercise sessions of 30 minutes per week. Balance exercises can include walking heel-toe, sideways and backwards or even yoga, tai chi & pilates.