Your body is constantly changing. If you can adapt, you can manage, reduce or even remove pain or discomfort.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle, increasing their vulnerability to fractures. The condition arises when bones lose minerals, (such as calcium and vitamin D) quicker than they can be replaced, resulting in bone thinning, porousness or decreased density.
Where does it occur?
Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, with the most common sites located in the spine, hip, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arm.
In Australia, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men over 60 are likely to suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Unfortunately, there tends to be a cascade effect, whereby the occurrence of one osteoporotic fracture greatly increases the probability of further fractures.
Until you experience pain, you may not realise that you have a fracture, as Osteoporosis does not have any obvious symptoms.
Risk factors for osteoporosis
The following are factors that may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Female gender
- Caucasian or Asian race
- Thin and small body frame
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Personal history of fracture as an adult
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Lack of exercise
- Low calcium diet
- Mal-absorption (e.g. celiac disease)
- Low oestrogen levels in women (menopause or with early surgical removal of both ovaries)
- Low testosterone levels in men (hypogonadism)
- Chemotherapy (may cause early menopause due to its toxic effects on the ovaries)
- Amenorrhea (loss of the menstrual period)
- Chronic inflammation, due to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or liver diseases
- Immobility, after a stroke, or from any condition that interferes with walking
- Over active thyroid gland
- Over active parathyroid glands (controls calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous levels in the bloodstream and bones)
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Certain medications (including long-term use of heparin (a blood thinner), anti-seizure medications, and long-term use of oral corticosteroids (e.g prednisolone)
"Exercise and Fracture Prevention - a Guide for GP’s and Health Professionals", compiled from articles written by Maria A Fatarone Singh.
Further information is available from the Osteoporosis Australia website.
How Spring Can Help
Firstly, maintaining your correct levels of calcium in your diet and increasing your Vitamin D intake is crucial in the prevention or management of Osteoporosis. (See your doctor for more details.)
Keeping your body moving and functioning is critical. By doing a combination of weight bearing aerobic activity and resistance exercise, we can stabilise or INCREASE our bone density by 1-2% per year.
The following forms of exercise can have a positive impact on osteoporosis:
- Weight bearing exercise, such as dancing.
- Resistance training, such as using free weights, dumbbells, elastic band resistance and body weight resistance or
- weight training machines.
- Posture and balance training exercises such as tai chi.
- Swimming is a valuable way of improving cardiovascular health and muscular strength, especially if there is high impact risk of fracture.
- Walking longer, quicker, over difficult terrain or for long duration is great for maintaining healthy bones.