Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones, causing them to become less dense and therefore more fragile and easily broken.
We will naturally lose some bone density as we age but in some people this occurs more rapidly and is then known as osteoporosis or osteopenia (a milder form). This affects more than 3 million people in the UK and its thought 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
COULD YOU BE AT RISK OF OSTEOPOROSIS & FRACTURES?
You may be at higher risk of osteoporosis if:
- You have low body weight or history of anorexia
- You had an early menopause or hysterectomy
- You don’t get enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet
- You smoke or drink over the recommended limit of alcohol a week
- You’ve had long course of steroid based medication or cancer treatment
Most people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone but it can be diagnosed by a DEXA scan which looks at your bone density.
If you have osteoporosis your GP may prescribe medications such as alendronic acid which helps slow the breakdown of bone, or calcium and vitamin D supplements which help build new bone. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet and avoid smoking and alcohol are also likely to be beneficial.
Regular weight-bearing and resistance exercises have been shown to help stimulate our bones to grow stronger. The most suitable type of exercise will depend on how much bone density you have already lost, for example younger people with reasonable bone density but several risk factors would benefit from higher impact training such as running, circuit training, tennis and football.
However, if you already have been diagnosed with osteoporosis start with lower impact exercises such as walking, Pilates, tai chi, gentle dance classes and lifting light weights to build your bones up more gradually.
Our Positive Steps classes are a perfect place to start, aimed at the over 60’s we combine seated and standing resistance exercises with balance and flexibility work. We run 2 classes a week, and each class is small and friendly where in a fun and relaxed atmosphere you’ll be feeling the benefits straight away. Try a class for free, just call us on 023 8025 3317 to book a free place!
If you are unsure what’s the best type of exercise for you consult your GP or come along and see one of our Physiotherapists.