How strong are your bones?

Osteoporosis and its precursor osteopenia are sneaky little diseases, showing very few signs until someone has a fracture. How then can we know if we are at risk?

As we age the mineral density of our bones naturally decreases, due to hormonal changes reducing the strength of our bones. For women who have experienced menopause this is at an increased rate as the reductions in oestrogen speed up the process. However, men you are definitely not immune as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that one in three women and one in five men over 50 will experience and osteoporotic fracture.

  • 1:3 women & 1:5 men of 50 years of age are at risk of fracture.
  • Any of your 206 bones can be affected.
  • Osteoporosis and osteopenia are characterised by a loss of bone mineral density (BMD).
  • Exercise can help to improve the strength of your bones, reducing the risk of developing the disease and for those already living with reduced BMD, can slow the progress significantly.

Testing:

Through a DXA scan BMD is commonly measured at the hip and lumbar spine and upon request by your doctor they may also measure your wrist. The results from this test are then compared to that of healthy young adult.  

Bone Status

T-Score

Normal

≥ -1.0

Osteopenia

-1.0  -2.5

Osteoporosis

≤ -2.5

Severe Osteoporosis

≤ -2.5 & at least one fragility fracture

How can exercise help?

Loading your bones through resistance and body weight training are great ways of stimulating growth, making your bones stronger. As our muscles all connect to bones via tendons when we complete resistance training this pulls directly on the bones forcing them to adapt and get stronger.

Additionally, we can use our own body weight to stimulate this process also. Through walking, running, jumping, skipping and some other lower impact exercises,  we can create a vibration in our skeletal system that in turn stimulates an increase in BMD. 

It is important to remember that some of these exercises may be of too high an impact for some people living with Osteoporosis in its progressive stages. It is therefore very important to seek the advice of an exercise professional to guide you through this process safely.

At Simply Stronger we can tailor an exercise program which will not only improve your BMD, reducing your risk of Osteoporosis and Osteopenia and also reducing your risk of a fracture, simply by reviewing your balance. There are several systems within our bodies that impact our balance and through some simple testing, we can establish in which areas we can create the greatest improvements in your body. We even have a balance specific class, Simply Balance available to improve all these systems in a fun and engaging atmosphere.

References and useful website:

Skeletan photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

The Garvan Institute “Know your bones consumer report 2018” ; knowyourbones.org.au

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) – Osteoporosis snapshot

Osteoporosis Australia 

WHO scientific group on the assessment of osteoporosis at a primary health care level. 

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