Did you know that 2 out of 3 Australian adults will suffer from Osteoporosis or Osteopenia?
The human skeleton is a wonderful thing. Throughout our entire lifetime, the human skeleton will reabsorb old bone structure and create new bone structure to ensure we have a healthy skeletal system, so much so that we will have a new skeleton every 10 years or so. However, as we age the process of reabsorption and creation of new bone structure becomes out of balance and the breakdown of old bone exceeds that of new bone being created, this is where the issue lies.
Bone mineral density is a measure of the mineral depth in our bones which makes them strong and healthy. When the ratio of new bone and old bone becomes unbalanced, our bone mineral density (BMD) drops and we become more susceptible to fractures and the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Women over 50 years of age are more susceptible to the degree of BMD loss that results in osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Fear not, there is a way to help your bones along in getting back to their healthy and strong state and that is through exercise (along with a few other tips). Considering how common osteoporosis is in the general population, there has not been a significant amount of research to help us in determining what is the best strategy in improving bone density. However, much of the research suggests that exercise is one of the most common and successful ways in improving and maintaining healthy bones, without any specifics on what exercises to do that yield the best results.
Studies have shown that resistance training protocols with weight bearing and resistance exercises are the best option for those people who are looking to improve their bone strength, compared to those with just one type of training. The added benefit of these exercises is that they also improve agility, strength, posture, and balance and thus reducing the risk of falls while working on the strength of bones and general health and wellbeing. Exercises like walking/jogging, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates have also been suggested to help with bone strength as well as balance.
It has also been shown that the intensity of exercise can influence the benefits on bone density. One study examined this fact to determine the most beneficial intensity of exercise for several bone sites including vertebrae and the neck of the femur (Spine and hip). It found that if you were to complete some high intensity training such as plyometric jumps as well as a general weight bearing regime, the benefits would outweigh that if you were only completing the weight bearing regime. This result was also measured against a group that did no exercise and that showed a marked difference.
The long and short of it is we have our bones for our entire life and we need to be doing our best to keep them healthy. Higher intensity exercise is the best regime; however, any exercise will also show many benefits. Healthy Bones Action Week is August 1-7 and it is never too early or too late to think about our bones; so, grab your kids and get started on a weight bearing program today. If you would like more information on this topic or guidance in a bone health weight bearing or resistance program, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Johnston (B.Sc. Exercise Physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)(ESSAM)