Cronulla clinic: (02) 9527 4099

Love Your Bones! #WorldOsteoporosisDay

Osteoporosis affects over one million Australians, and it is estimated that by the year 2022, there will be an increase of 31% from the year 2012 in the prevalence of this disease.  October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day; read on to learn how to love your bones and fight against osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis makes bones become porous and brittle, increasing the risk of breaking a bone compared to healthy bones. It is often labelled as a “silent disease” as it usually has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. However, once a fracture does occur, your risk of another fracture within one year increases by 4-fold.

What is the role of calcium?

Calcium is essential in building and maintaining bone; in fact almost 99% of the body’s calcium is found in bones. Calcium also plays an important role in heart and muscle function and if you do not consume enough calcium in your diet, your body will use calcium from your bones for these functions. If your body withdraws more calcium than it can deposit, your bone density will gradually decline, and over time this will increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Dairy foods are a readily absorbable source of calcium and unfortunately it is estimated approximately 80% of Australians do not meet the current guidelines for dairy food consumption. The exact amount of calcium needed varies with age and gender, however most adults require between 2.5 and 4 serves of dairy per day.

If you are intolerant to dairy, alternatives such as soy, rice or almond milk with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100ml may be suitable. Other food equivalents of one serve of calcium include 100g of almonds with skin on, 60g of sardines or 1/2 cup of canned pink salmon with bones.

Why is Vitamin D important?

Vitamin D helps our body to absorb calcium and therefore plays an important role. Vitamin D deficiency is common in Australia, affecting approximately 30% of Australians. Sunlight exposure is the most common source of Vitamin D, however for people with low Vitamin D levels, a Vitamin D supplement may be advised by your doctor.

What about exercise?

Exercise is important across the lifespan. Our peak bone density is reached by the age of 25-30, and for most people after the age of 40 our bone mass starts to decline. Exercises that put load through the bones during childhood and adolescence is necessary for building maximum bone strength, maintaining muscle and bone strength during young and middle adulthood and reducing bone loss in older age.

But not all exercise is osteogenic (promoting the building of bone). Exercises which are considered high impact such as running, jumping or skipping are the most osteogenic. However, high impact exercises are not suitable for everyone, especially if you have had a fracture in the past, have particularly weakened bones or painful joints. Progressive resistance training which includes exercises using body weight, dumbbells and other free weights or machine weights are also very osteogenic and safe for people who have had fractures. When doing resistance training it is very important to have proper technique to prevent injury. If you are new to resistance training or have not done it in some time, it is always best to consult with a trained professional.

Walking, yoga and lawn bowls are considered to have low osteogenic benefits, whilst swimming and cycling have no osteogenic benefits. This is not to say that these exercises are not great for general health and fitness, however if you are wanting to make your bones stronger these exercises will not achieve that.

In addition to exercises which promote the building of bone, it is important to train our balance. It is estimated that approximately 6% of falls result in a fracture, and for people with osteoporosis even a minor fall may result in a fracture. Exercises such as standing on one leg or Tai chi are the best ways to train balance. These exercises do not directly improve bone strength, but can help to reduce the risk of falling.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are interested in preventing the loss of bone density, take the leap and talk to Southside Physiotherapy about who can help you on your pathway to stronger bones and a healthier you!

Get free health news

Want to receive free, expert health tips and genuine offers from us in your inbox?

Unsubscribe any time;
No spam.

Ask us a question
Search our website