What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. The stage before osteoporosis is called osteopenia.
Oestrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. This is why the chance of developing osteoporosis increases as women reach menopause.
How can weight bearing exercise help?
Weight-bearing exercise, especially resistance exercise, appears to have the greatest effects on bone mineral density.
Numerous longitudinal studies have examined the effects of exercise training on bone health in children, adolescents, and young, middle-aged and older adults. There is compelling evidence that routine physical activity, especially weight-bearing and impact exercise, prevents bone loss associated with aging.
In a meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), exercise training programs were found to prevent or reverse almost 1% of bone loss per year in the lumbar spine and femoral neck in both pre- and postmenopausal women (Wolff et al, 1999).
In addition, exercise training appears to significantly reduce the risk and number of falls and the risk and incidence of fractures is also reduced among active people (Carter et al 2001, Gregg et al 2000).
Preliminary evidence from a high quality trail indicates that exercise training is effective in improving bone density in older women (75–85 years of age) with low bone mineral density (Liu- Ambrose et al, 2004). In this 6 month trail, 98 women were randomly assigned to participate in resistance training ( n = 32), agility training ( n = 34) or stretching (n = 32). The greatest increase in cortical bone density were observed in the resistance training group, followed by the agility training group. The stretching group experienced losses in cortical bone density.
Regular weight bearing physical activity appears to be important in preventing loss of bone mineral density and osteoporosis, particularly in postmenopausal women.
How we can help optimise your bone health:
- Physiotherapist lead assessment, treatment and guidance on appropriate weight bearing exercises
- Pain relieving modalities (acupuncture, floatation therapy, manual therapy, massage therapy) to reduce pain to allow the individual to participate in regular weight bearing activity
- Personal training
Please read the full article for more information. Warburton et al, 2006. Health benefits of physical activity. CMAJ.