Osteoporosis and Exercise

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle, and can fracture more easily than normal bones.  Even minor falls can cause serious fractures. 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men over 60 will have a fracture due to osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis and fractures are major causes of injury, long term disability and even death in older Australians.

What affects bone strength?

There are 3 important factors that affect bone strength:

 - Nutrition (especially calcium and vitamin D)
 - Hormonal Activity
 - Exercise

Exercise and the prevention of Osteoporosis

How does exercise affect bone strength?

Exercise improves health in many ways.  Bones need nourishment and the mechanical stress of physical activity to remain strong and healthy.  Daily exercise helps to keep bones and muscles strong, maintain flexibility and reduce the chances of injury.

Bones respond to the amount and type of activity we do.  It is good to do different exercises so that a variety of stress is placed on your bones and muscles.  People who exercise regularly have greater bone density
than people the same age that are inactive.  Tennis players have more bone strength in their dominant arm and runners develop stronger spines and legs than those who exercise less.

There are 2 types of exercise that are particularly beneficial to your bones:

1. Weight bearing
2. Strength training

Examples are:

 - Walking 
 - Jogging 
 - Netball
 - Tennis
 - Golf
 - Aerobics  
 - Strength training or resistance training exercise program

Tips for maintaining your exercise program:

 - Start slowly and progress gradually
 - Do something you like
 - Make it Fun
 - Exercise with a friend or in a group
 - Pay up front – more likely to keep going
 - Keep an exercise diary

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a medical condition, are over 45 or have not been exercising regularly.

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