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  • Writer's pictureRiley Stephens

Benefits of Exercise for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis or its precursor osteopenia is the most common chronic bone disease in the world (1). Osteoporosis is commonly characterised by increased bone fragility due to a decline in bone strength and density. This in turn means that we are at an increased risk for fragility fractures which can lead to pain, disability, loss of functional independence and increased morbidity and mortality.


Osteoporosis is related to many factors including ageing, race, menopause, other chronic health conditions and a lack of physical activity (2). With improvements in medicine and health care the world’s population is living longer so osteoporosis is becoming a global health epidemic. Research shows that osteoporosis is more commonly observed in women with the International Osteoporosis Foundation finding worldwide 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime (1-3).


However, osteoporosis and related decline in bone health is fortunately reversible and even

preventable changes in our lifestyle behaviours in particular our exercise behaviours.


Benefits of Exercise (4)

Exercise has been proven to be beneficial in the prevention, management and reversal of

osteoporosis in the following ways:

  • Increasing bone density through increased bone loading – our bones are a dynamic tissue meaning the more we load our bones they adapt to this load and get stronger.

  • Improve balance = reduced risk of falls – targeted exercises to improve our balance can reduce our risk of falls thus reducing our risk of bone fracture from a fall.

  • Increased muscle strength – Keeping our muscles nice and strong means the bones that they attach to stay strong, strong muscles also allow up to tolerate higher loads meaning less loads being put on our bones themselves.


What type of exercise is best? (4)

It is known that the best type of exercise is those that increases bone loading. Walking for example is a great exercise for regular bone loading. Walking or jogging is recommended to be completed most days of the week (4-5 x a week). Aerobic exercises that do not load our bones and will not aid in the management of osteoporosis these include cycling and swimming, so, if possible, stick to walking or jogging.


Resistance training is also recommended at least 2 x a week with exercises focusing on increasing muscular strength and exercises that specifically increase the loading on our bones.


Finally exercises to improve our balance are important to reduce our risk of falls to prevent and reduce our risk of fracture from a fall. These exercises should be practiced everyday to ensure our balance is that best it can be.


If you’re having trouble finding the motivation or want help finding a type of exercise you can realistically achieve for the prevention or management of osteoporosis, an Exercise Physiologist can assist. Exercise Physiologist’s are experts in exercise prescription and can help guide you along the right path for your health.



For more information on Osteoporosis see the following links:



References:

1. Clynes, M. A., Harvey, N. C., Curtis, E. M., Fuggle, N. R., Dennison, E. M., & Cooper, C.

(2020). The epidemiology of osteoporosis. British medical bulletin.

2. Sözen, T., Özışık, L., & Başaran, N. Ç. (2017). An overview and management of

osteoporosis. European journal of rheumatology, 4(1), 46.

3. Daly, R. M., Dalla Via, J., Duckham, R. L., Fraser, S. F., & Helge, E. W. (2019). Exercise for

the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: an evidence-based guide to the optimal prescription. Brazilian journal of physical therapy, 23(2), 170-180.

4. Beck, B. R., Daly, R. M., Singh, M. A. F., & Taaffe, D. R. (2017). Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) position statement on exercise prescription for the prevention and

management of osteoporosis. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 20(5), 438-445.

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