Osteoporosis is a condition of low bone mass that leads to an increased risk of fracture.
Approximately 66% of Australians over 50 years of age have low or very low bone mass; 42% of women and 27% of men will fracture. Unfortunately studies show that less than 50% of people who suffer a hip fracture return to their previous level of function.
Diagnosis of osteoporosis is undertaken via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Scans are usually performed at the hip, spine and wrist and provide a T-Score which compares an individual’s bone mass to a reference database.
The T-score is then used to describe a person as having ‘normal’, ‘osteopenic’ or ‘osteoporotic’ bone. While risk of fracture is greatest in those with lowest bone mass, the majority of fractures actually occur in osteopenia simply because it is more common than osteoporosis.
Normal: T score greater than –1.0
Osteopenia: T score between –1.0 and –2.5
Osteoporosis: T score less than –2.5
How does exercise influence bone?
Bone has the ability to adapt in response to changes in loading, this occurs in order to protect it from damage (such as when a person begins to exercise having been sedentary, or increases or modifies their exercise regime). It does this by bending slightly more or differently than usual under the novel loading. This results in a signal being sent to the bone cells embedded in the tissue. Those signals stimulate bone resorption and formation to modify bone density, shape and size in a way that future bending under the same load is minimised. When a bone has changed its size or shape to the extent that the same loading no longer invokes the same degree of bending, it ceases to change. Varying the types of loading (doing different activities) is therefore an important strategy to ensure that exercise continues to be a positive stimulus for bone.
At Optimum Exercise Physiology we love helping people with osteoporosis, and have a class specifically to help people with Osteoporosis to improve their bone health (along with improving muscle strength and balance). We can provide clients with an individual program, or clients may wish to join our group Strength Bones & Balance class where we target these 3 areas.
Find out more about this program here
✔ Not all exercise improves bone health
✔ Specific resistance training exercises, at a specific load and volume, along with impact exercise are BEST for improving bone mineral density.
✔ Balance exercise are important to prevent people with low bone density from having a fall, as they are at a greater risk of fracture if they fall.
✔ People with osteoporosis should undertake guided exercise as exercises will be prescribed appropriate to your level of osteoporosis in each body area.