Benefits of Exercise for Osteoporosis
Written by: Jareth Blundell
Published on: May 12, 2022

What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and fragile, this means a slight knock, tripping, or fall could cause the bone to break (fracture).
Osteoporosis is most common in women over 75 years of age, affecting 1 out of 4 women, with the hip being the most prevalent site for fractures (32%).

What is Osteopenia?
It is important to know that Osteopenia occurs before Osteoporosis but can lead towards the diagnosis of Osteoporosis. Osteopenia refers to lower than normal bone mineral density and can be caused by inadequate calcium or vitamin D intake and lack of exercise.

Impact of Osteoporosis on the individual?
In the national health survey in 2017-18, individuals over 45 years of age who experience osteoporosis are 2.7 times more likely to describe their health as ‘poor’. Furthermore 57% who have osteoporosis described their pain ranges from moderate to very severe. Lastly, individuals who have osteoporosis express that they are 2.9 times likely to experience very high levels of psychological distress compared to those without the condition.

Benefits of exercise for Osteoporosis
Exercise has several benefits for osteoporosis. Regular exercise reduces bone mineral density loss, improves muscular strength, increases mobility, increases balance and coordination, reduces pain, improves mood and viability, maintains remaining bone tissue.
It is important to do the right type of exercise to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis or maintaining bone mineral density.
Resistance training is the best form of exercise to help people who have osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Resistance training is an umbrella term used for exercises. These exercises include free weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, resistance bands, body-weight exercises (push ups, squats, lunges) or weighted machines.
Water based exercises such as hydrotherapy are not ideal to improve bone mineral density, this is because the buoyancy of the water makes the exercises non weight bearing. 
Although walking is a weight bearing exercise, you will not see vast improvements in bone mineral density or muscular strength unless it is performed at a high intensity.

How often should I exercise with Osteoporosis?
There are currently no ‘optimal’ guidelines on exercising with Osteoporosis however, it is recommended to include 2-3 resistance training sessions per week with a focus on strengthening the lower limbs, core, and arm muscles, as well as performing balance exercise 2 times per week for a few minutes. Furthermore, it is important to include 45 minutes to 1 hour of aerobic activity to maintain / improve cardiovascular fitness 2-3 times per week

What can Revitalize offer?
Due to Osteoporosis being a chronic medical condition you can get a referral from your local GP for an enhanced primary care plan (EPC plan). Under an EPC plan you can get a Medicare rebate for up to 5 sessions per year with an exercise physiologist
Revitalize also offers private sessions that are individually tailored to help improve strength and bone mineral density, as well as provide education on achieving optimal quality of life.
Falls prevention classes that help reduce your risk of falling by improving function, mobility, and balance.

References
https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis/contents/impact-of-osteoporosis
https://healthybonesaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/HBA-Fact-Sheet-Osteopenia.pdf
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoporosis-and-exercise

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