Osteoporosis is a disease which makes bones become brittle leading to a higher risk of breaks than in normal bone. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, causing a loss of bone. Osteopenia is a similar condition in which bones are becoming weaker and is considered the stage before osteoporosis.
A common co-morbidity of osteoporosis is fractures particularly in the hip, spine and wrist. As bones become thinner and less dense, even a minor bump or fall can cause a serious fracture. A ‘fracture’ is a complete or partial break in a bone.
In Australia, around half of all women and one third of men over 60 years of age have osteoporosis. Unfortunately, females are more prone to osteoporosis because of the rapid decline in oestrogen levels during menopause. When oestrogen levels decrease, bones lose calcium and other minerals at a much faster rate. As a result, bone loss of approximately 2% per year occurs for several years after menopause. Men also lose bone as they age,however testosterone levels in men decline more gradually so their bone mass remains adequate till later in life. Individuals over the age of 50 with the risk factors detailed below are recommended to speak to their doctor and/or organise a bone scan.
Other risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Family History
- Weight (both under and overweight)
- Low physical activity levels
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Low Calcium intake - adults require 1,000 mg per day (preferably through diet) which increases to 1,300 mg per day for women over 50 and men over 70
- Low Vitamin D Levels – lack of sun exposure results in lack of vitamin D which your body needs for your bones to absorb the calcium.
Exercise plays a vital role in prevention & treatment of osteoporosis and also reduce the risk of fractures. This is due to exercise helps reduce the rate at which bone is lost. Furthermore, with exercise you can reduce your chances of falling by exercising to build your muscle strength and improve your balance. Specific types of exercise are important for improving bone strength these include:
- Weight bearing exercise (exercise done while on your feet so you bear your own weight). For example, brisk walking, jogging, skipping, basketball /netball, tennis, dancing, impact aerobics, stair walking
- Progressive resistance training (becomes more challenging over time). For example lifting weights, hand weights or gym equipment.
Unfortunately, certain exercises like swimming and cycling may be good for general health but have little benefit to bone health and osteoporosis.
If you have osteoporosis and want to start exercise get in contact with us on 1300 869 169 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any of the above risk factors get in contact with your GP today and speak to them about osteoporosis!!!
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