Help Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a loss of bone material that weakens the bones and can lead to fractures. It is a so called “silent” disease, as many people don’t know they have it until something happens, maybe a fall, where they break or fracture a bone.
They may not realise they have it until they end up in hospital after breaking a hip. Other people take a bone density test (to check their bone strength) and get the bad news that way.
Osteoporosis is most common in certain groups but these are not the only ones who can get it. Women who have passed the menopause, people with small frames and those whose families have suffered from it and the most likely to also have this condition. Anyone with osteoporosis or the earlier form, osteopenia, has an increased risk of bone fracture. And up to 50% of women and 25% of men over the age of 50 years will suffer this way, fracturing a hip, wrist or even their spine, though any bone can be affected.
Complete reversal of osteoporosis is probably not realistic, but it is possible to halt or even improve bone density, with exercise, diet and drugs. Together with exercises to improve balance, this can help prevent fractures happening.
Most people know they need to take more exercise, but many have difficulty finding the time. Balancing a career, family responsibilities and a social life can make it difficult to fit in exercise, even when it’s vitally necessary for managing a health condition, such as osteoporosis.
Regular weight training can help increase muscle mass and bone density and increase the metabolic rate too, which may lead to fat loss. It is important to exercise daily, maybe 30 – 60 minutes of exercise per day but better to do a smaller amount than none at all. Consistency is necessary if you really want to see changes and make improvements and you will need to gradually increase the intensity as you get fitter. Exercise, especially weight training can fight reductions in bone density. Early in the bone loss process, you may not see any signs, but eventually it can lead to broken bones, the disfiguring dowager’s hump, loss of height and certain types of back pain. After the age of 35, bone mass slowly declines but the rate of loss can be minimized and osteoporosis can be prevented by weight and resistance training. An active lifestyle, weight-bearing exercise and proper eating can significantly slow down the rate of bone loss. Remember to start slow and gradually increase the weights used.
While it is easy to purchase exercise videos, finding the time and motivation to use them regularly can be more difficult. It can help to draw out a weekly timetable of what you are already committed to (including sleep) and work out your best available times for exercise and then blocking these times out on your calendar. Another way of gaining the motivation to follow a fitness program is to read books about osteoporosis and find out as much about the condition you want to help as you possibly can. You can also find information on line, in magazines and leaflets, etc.