Osteoporosis and exercise

Updated: Mar 27, 2019

Do you need buffer bones ?

According to Osteoporosis Australia, over 1.2 million people suffer from osteoporosis, and in Queensland alone, 43% of women and 13% of men over 70 years of age suffer from osteoporosis. With figures this high, prevention, treatment and management are of the upmost importance to ensure quality of life is maintained well throughout their lifespan.

Let’s discuss healthy bones.

Healthy bones are happy bones and what many people don't realise is that they are a living, growing tissue. Two types of bone are found in the body—cortical and trabecular. Cortical bone is dense and compact. It forms the outer layer of the bone. Trabecular bone makes up the inner layer of the bone and has a spongy, honeycomb-like structure. Its a bit like a crunchie bar or violet crumble !

Bones are primarily made of collagen which is a protein that provides a soft framework for the bone. Calcium phosphate and other minerals combine with the collagen to strengthen and harden the framework. This combination provides a strong and flexible structure that can with stand the forces and stress required for everyday activities and more.

The levels or density of minerals in the bone can be measured by a DXA machine to assess how strong your bones are. The DXA scan takes a "picture" of the bone similar to that of an X-Ray, but unlike an x-ray it can identify if you may have osteoporosis or osteopenia due to a reduction in bone mineral density.

Here is a great video about the biology of bone, (warning contains dramatic elevator music and science);

How bone is created and broken down in order to maintain its strength?

Bone is created throughout our entire life through a balancing act of breakdown, reabsorption and recreation. Inside our bones we have two types of cells, the osteoblasts and the osteoclasts.

  • Osteoclasts work on the breakdown and reabsorption of the bone’s calcium, whereas osteoblasts build the bone through calcium deposition.

  • Osteoblasts are stimulated to grow and create a denser bone when placed under certain pressure, for example certain types of exercise.

During childhood and the teenage years, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier and denser. For most people, bone formation continues at a faster pace than removal until bone mass peaks during the third decade of life.

Here is an animation to explain the osteoblast and osteoclast roles in making bone;

What is osteoporosis and why does it happen ?

Think of bone as a bank account where you “deposit” and “withdraw” bone tissue.

After age 20, bone “withdrawals” can begin to exceed “deposits.” For many people, this bone loss can be prevented by continuing to get calcium, vitamin D, and exercise and by avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol use.

Osteoporosis develops when bone removal occurs too quickly, replacement occurs too slowly, or both. You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if you did not reach your maximum peak bone mass during your bone-building years.

Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. This is because women generally have smaller, thinner bones than men have and because women can lose bone tissue rapidly in the first 4 to 8 years after menopause because of the sharp decline in production of the hormone estrogen. However, by age 65, women and men tend to lose bone tissue at the same rate.

Here is another quick video about what happens in osteoporosis , contains lots of sciency words and dramatic music but is interesting none the less.

Although men do not undergo the equivalent of menopause, production of the male hormone testosterone may decrease, and this can lead to increased bone loss and a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.

The good news is we can offset this bone loss by building new stronger bone.

What are the benefits of stronger bones ?

The biggest benefit from exercise and bone health are as follows;

  • Increase the density and strength of bone by putting more " deposits in the bone bank".

  • Reduction of fracture risk.

  • Reduce the risk of falls due to improved balance and strength.

How do we buid stronger bones ?

Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Weight-bearing and resistence exercises are the best for your bones. This includes lifting weights and using weight training machines.

Research done at Griffith University, Queensland, has shown that a structured resistance based exercise program is the the most effective treatment for osteoporosis. They demonstrated that bone mineral density in the lumbar spine and femoral neck, (thigh bone ), improved in up to 74% of participants thus reducing their risk of osteoporotic fracture.

Here is a video showing you their program that we are now running at Arana Hills ;

If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and want to start the bone clinic program feel free to phone the clinic on 3351 5639 and have a chat with me.

See you soon


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