Exercise a osteoporosis: Building stronger bones

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Maximum Health with Eryn Matheson

Did you know that half of women over the age of 50 will sustain a fracture due to osteoporosis? The most commonly fractured areas are the spine, wrist and hip

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease and is twice as common in women than in men. Osteoporosis is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density (basically the bone become more fragile) which leads to an increased risk for fracture.

Certain risk factors for osteoporosis cannot be changed such as age, family history, and taking certain medications, however, the good news is that exercise has a direct impact on the quality of bone !  Studies have shown that regular low impact cardiovascular exercise coupled with resistance training have both been shown to improve bone quality and reduce the risk of fracture.

Many people are familiar with the fact that resistance training builds muscle and makes you stronger, but did you know that strength and resistance training also stimulates bone growth and strength? Resistance training causes muscles to shorten and stretch resulting in a  “pulling action” on bone. This pulling process positively impacts bone quality by causing increased bone density & strength. Furthermore, regular strength and resistance training has many other benefits such as reducing your risk of having a fall (with improved balance and strength), weight loss and improved cardiovascular health.

So how can you build stronger bones?

Improve Your Posture

Good posture is the foundation of all movement and is critical to your balance.

Unfortunately, many people develop a stooped posture as they age. This leads to labored breathing, fatigue, and altered balance; which in turn leads to becoming more sedentary and retreating from activities previously enjoyed.  Less physical activity results in decreased bone quality, and a greater risk of fracture due to reduced balance.

Engage in low impact cardiovascular activities such as swimming instead of higher impact weight bearing activities such as running and step classes.

Engage in safe, frequent loading of bones through resistance & strength training. If you have already been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis – consult a qualified health care provider, such as a physiotherapist, for advice regarding safe and effective resistance exercises for you.

Be mindful of Proper Movement During Activities of Daily Living

Proper movement and postural alignment play a key role in preventing spinal fractures.

Proper movement and posture while engaging in daily activities such as housework and gardening is very important.

Lower your risk of a fall

People who have a sedentary lifestyle often start to lose their balance and ability to respond to quick changes in movement in their mid-fifties.  You can reduce your risk of a fracture with a falls prevention exercise program that incorporates strength training and balance and proprioceptive exercises

Finally, talk to you family physician about osteoporosis, educate yourself, and start thinking about you bone health now.  Prevention is key in preventing a fracture due to osteoporosis.

If you have any questions about your current exercise routine or would like to find ways to improve your bone health and reduce your fracture risk, please contact me at ptHealth & Wellness in Amherst 660-3386.

Eryn Matheson is a physiotherapist at ptHealth in Amherst.


Organizations: Journal of the American Medical Association

Geographic location: Amherst

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