What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that is caused by a loss of calcium, and some other minerals, from a sufferer’s bones, due to decreased production of hormones, advanced age, or the use of some types of medication.
Bone loss slowly increases naturally as we age, which is brought on by low bone mineral density which in turn causes the bone to become thinner and more fragile, creating multiple tiny bone fractures that do not need high impact to occur.
What are the symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis has no signs or symptoms until fractures occur and is very common in Australia, with over half of all women and a third of all men over 60 suffering from the disease and the ultimate reality is that Osteoporotic ‘minimal trauma’ fractures cause a significant decrease in quality of life. Ironically, a loss in quality of life in turn increases the risk and effects of Osteoporosis itself.
This means a reduction in life quality and also ability to exercise which, in turn means even higher risk of osteoporosis. The presence of Osteoporosis is also closely linked with increased mortality, morbidity and disability.
How can I reduce the effects of Osteoporosis?
There are several recommended ways to reduce the risk and effects of Osteoporosis. Increasing calcium and Vitamin D intake from an early age (vitamin D will help the body absorb the calcium), going outside to boost your Vitamin D levels and get some exercise (see below), reducing alcohol intake, so that calcium intake is not further reduced, and minimising the risk of falling, so that injuries do not reduce mobility. However, one of the most important things you can do to alleviate the problems associated with Osteoporosis is to do more exercise.
How Can Exercise Help with the Effects of Osteoporosis?
Exercise has innumerable, extremely well documented benefits to almost all human beings. In addition to these benefits, exercise can help sufferers of Osteoporosis with:
- Reduced bone loss because bone, as a living tissue, responds to impacts from exercise
- Reduced risk of a fall, because sustained exercise builds muscle strength that supports the bone when trips or loss of balance occur,
- Increased confidence to enjoy the productive lifestyle that reduces the effects of the Osteoporosis,
- Improved physical fitness, muscle strength and reaction time,
- Increased mobility, posture and balance,
- Reduced risk of bone fractures caused by falls,
- Reduced pain,
- Reduced need for some medications,
- Better mood and vitality.
Exercises to Help with Osteoporosis
If you would like to start exercising in order to minimise the effects of Osteoporosis, the first thing to do is to speak to your doctor, a physiotherapist from a trusted team such as Transcend Health, in NSW. After you have done this, there is a whole world of possible exercise you can do. For example, Healthline recommends some movements you can do at any age:
- Foot stomps – to challenge your hips.
While standing, stomp your foot four times on one foot, then on the other foot. Hold on to something sturdy to keep balance.
- Bicep curls – to strengthen arm joints.
Use a resistance band, or even a book or cans. Bicep curls can be performed seated or standing.
- Shoulder lifts
Use the same items as for bicep curls and you can do this exercise from either a standing or seated position – slowly raise your arms out straight in front of you without locking your elbows. Lift to a comfortable height, no higher than your shoulder, repeat 10 times.
- Hamstring curls
Perform this exercise from a standing position, placing your hands on something sturdy for added balance. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your left toes are touching the floor and contract the muscles in the back of your left leg, so your heel touches your leg, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
- Hip leg lifts
Hold onto something sturdy for balance and start with your feet hip-width apart, but with your weight on your left foot. Flex your right foot, keeping your right leg straight, then raise it to the side, 20cm off the ground. Lower your leg, do the same on the other side and repeat 10 times.
Place your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees to slowly squat down. Make sure your back is straight and also lean slightly forward. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Finally, tighten your buttocks to stand. Repeat 10 times.
- Ball sit
This exercise helps with balance and your abdominal muscles and is performed using an exercise ball. It is best to do this with somebody, to help you with your balance. Sit on the exercise ball, with flat feet, keeping your back straight. Hold your arms out at your sides, palms facing forward and hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then stand, rest for a few minutes and repeat twice.
- Standing on one leg
This exercise promotes greater balance: Hold onto a chair or table, stand on one foot for one minute, if possible, then rest and repeat on the other leg. Easier said than done!
Bring in the professionals – get help from a physiotherapist
Exercising on your own is a good way to start helping yourself with the effects of Osteoporosis, but there are limitations – how do you know you are performing exercises often enough, with the right weights, correct speed and difficulty level to produce safe results, for example?
This is where it helps immeasurably to speak to a physiotherapist team like Transcend Health. A physiotherapist can keep you on track, motivate you, keep you safe and help your health improve.
Physiotherapists are trained to find and deploy the best treatments for those who are experiencing pain, such as Osteoporotic pain, and a consultation can be life changing. They can help you strengthen bones as well as muscle.
Physiotherapy can help reduce the risk of falling, too. In short, exercise will help Osteoporosis sufferers, but to turbo charge the results, the best thing to do is to work with a physiotherapist. Exercise Physiologists are qualified to treat and prescribe exercise for osteoporosis contact Transcend Health today to find out more about ways they can help you manage Osteoporosis and a whole host of other physical, painful conditions.