Bone forming cells decline after the age of 35 years. Low bone mass is of concern as it can increase the likelihood of bone fractures.
Low bone mass is diagnosed with a DEXA scan and is categorised into two categories:
– Osteopenia: a bone density score between -1.0 and -2.5
– Osteoporosis: a bone density score -2.5 or more..
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and can break from a minor fall, or in severe cases, a simple action like sneezing.
Women tend to lose bone density earlier in life than males and can experience a rapid decline of bone density after menopause because the effects of oestrogen withdrawal. Oestrogen deficiency at menopause alters the bone resorption and bone formation meaning that the bone loss exceeds the rate of bone building. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the first 5 to 7 years following menopause. Men are not exempt from this condition with the rate of their bone resorption to formation ratio decreasing typically at 70 years of age
The most common risk factors include hereditary, estrogen deficiency, physical inactivity, low muscle mass/strength, smoking, alcohol, low calcium intake, low Vit D exposure and history of fractures. Low bone density can also be the result of medications (particularly steroid based medications) or other conditions (cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia). Fractures resulting from Osteoporosis are most likely at the hip, spine and wrist, but any bone can be affected.
There is strong evidence to prove that appropriate exercise training is vital in slowing the decline of bone density as well as reducing fracture risk in those diagnosed as Osteoporotic or Osteopenic. Regular aerobic, weight bearing, posture, balance and resistance training all play an important role in addressing different factors in treating low bone density and the associated fracture risk.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following steps to optimise bone health and help reduce risk of Osteoporosis
1. Obtaining the appropriate age related amounts of calcium and Vitamin D a day
2. Engaging in regular weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise training
3. Avoiding tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake
4. Becoming educated about bone health
5. Having a bone density examination and taking medication when recommended.
Current exercise guidelines state you should aim for 150minutes (2.5hours) of moderate intensity activity each week. That is exercise that makes you breathe harder and your heart beat faster, but still allow you to hold a conversation without getting short of breath. It is important to see the right professional to ensure you are exercising appropriately.
If you have been advised that you have low bone mineral density, it is recommended you consult an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before you commence exercise as they will be able to conduct the appropriate exercise testing and prescribe a program tailored to your functional capacity, physical limitations, and exercise and medical history.
If you don’t have any bone density concerns but are interested in reducing your risk and improving your health it is important to remember any exercise is better than none. Find something that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing. If you need advice on setting goals or a plan, or even a program prescribed for you, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Accredited Exercise Scientist are ideally trained to assist.
Exercise Physiology is an effective way to manage chronic disease and injury. At Motion Health we specialise in Exercise Physiology and will discuss a program that suits your lifestyle, age and fitness. We are open 6 days a week.