What to Know About Osteoporosis and Exercise

Have you recently been diagnosed with Osteoporosis or low bone mass, or have you been told that you need to exercise but you’re concerned about the risks?

Perhaps you’re not sure what type of exercise is best for you? Continue reading and we’ll try to answer some of these questions for you…


How Do I Know If I Have Osteoporosis?

To draw light on the condition, osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when bone mineral density or bone mass decreases. This leads to a decrease in bone strength highlighting an increased risk for fractures.

Osteoporosis is diagnosed with a DXA scan [Dual X-ray absorptiometry] that outputs a number called a T-score. A normal T-score would be zero, whereas a negative value [e.g. -3] correlates to weaker bones. Osteoporosis is diagnosed in individuals with a score that is -2.5 or below.

Am I At Risk Of Osteoporosis?

It is approximated that two-thirds of Australians over 50 suffer from low bone mass. As a “silent disease” that often goes unnoticed [except for when a fracture occurs], osteoporosis can affect men and women of all ages and ethnicity. However, there are populations at greater risk than others. Several factors may increase the risk including age, biological sex, body size, race, family history, diet, lifestyle & medication.

It is recommended to consider a bone density scan if you are one of the following below:

– Women age 65 years or older
– Men age 70 years or older
– Anyone with a bone fracture >50 years old
– Women ages 50-64 with risk factors*
– Men ages 50-69 with risk factors*

*risk factors include: family history of osteoporosis, frequent falls, vitamin D deficiency, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, certain medication use [e.g. prolonged glucocorticoid use]

Best Types of Exercise

As bone is considered a dynamic tissue that responds and adapts to loads, exercise is highly recommended as it provides a physical stimulus necessary for bone development and maintenance throughout life.

Current research would suggest that an exercise program facilitating treatment of osteoporosis should pertain modalities of: moderate to high impact weight-bearing activities, high intensity progressive resistance training, and balance training.

Weight bearing activities such as running, jogging, hopping, skipping or sports that incorporate such movements aim to maximise or maintain bone mass through the impact forces transmitted through joints.

Resistance training is essential to stimulate bone adaptation through muscle loading. Frail/highly deconditioned individuals achieve great benefits from resistance training but should be considered under supervision of an exercise physiologist.

Balance training is aimed to improve lower limb neuromuscular function and proprioceptive awareness to prevent falls, the leading cause of fracture for osteoporotic individuals.

As important as it is to have these modes of exercise included in your exercise prescription, individualisation of an exercise program is a necessity. This is because differences in bone mineral density and clinical factors play a role in determining the risk level [i.e., low, moderate or high risk] for fractures.

Hence it is recommended that supervision is considered for high-risk individuals as a preventative for low trauma fractures and for those unfamiliar with high intensity exercises. Proper technique is imperative especially when it comes to reducing the risk of vertebral fractures. When working with a health professional, falls risk should be screened and managed to reduce such risks in everyday life.

Want To Know More?

This article was written by Precision Physio Exercise Physiologist Brandon Liu, if you would like to know more, feel free to reach out to him or book an appointment with any Precision Physio Exercise Physiologist.

How Do I Book An Appointment?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call any of these numbers to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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