An estimated ten million Americans over 50 years old are diagnosed with osteoporosis or decreased bone density. In addition to that statistic, an astounding 80% of those affected are women! (1,5). About 34 million women over 50 have been diagnosed with osteopenia, or low bone mass, which is a precursor to osteoporosis (5). In this article, I will discuss:
- What is osteoporosis?
- Can exercise help?
- And where you can start.
What is osteoporosis?
A small decrease in bone density is normal during the aging process. Osteoporosis occurs when there is an abnormal imbalance between bone breakdown and bone repair.
Throughout the day, our bones are constantly breaking down and repairing themselves when they are stressed due to our daily movements. This helps our body to clean up the older, broken bone and lay down new, healthy bone. Which means, our bones are constantly breaking down and repairing themselves. Osteoporosis is when our body does not place down enough new bone or breaks it down too rapidly.
Can exercise help?
Women reach their peak muscle mass between ages 30-35 and their peak bone mass between ages 20-25(1). And many studies have found that weight-bearing and resistance exercise can improve health and even REVERSE bone loss (2). Weight-bearing exercises put stress on our bones. The stress to the bone stimulates the body to build new healthy bone. In addition, regular exercise will improve overall strength and balance, reducing the risk of falling.
One thing constantly done throughout the day is picking things up off the ground and put them overhead, including laundry. Check out the video below for a quick exercise you can do at home that will increase your bone density and your overall strength.
1. Aisenbrey J. Exercise in the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Physical Therapy Journal. July 1987; 1100-1104.
2. Dohrn I, Stahle A, Roaldsen K. “You have to keep moving, be active’: Perceptions and experiences of habitual physical activity in older women with osteoporosis. Physical Therapy Journal. March 2016; 96(3): 361-370.
3. MacKinnon J. Osteoporosis: A review. Physical Therapy Journal. October 1988; 68(10):1533-1540.
4. Palombaro K, Black J, Buchbinder D, Jette D. Effectiveness of exercise in managing osteoporosis in women postmenopause. Physical Therapy Journal. August 2013; 93(8):1021-1025.
5. Perry S, Downey P. Fracture risk and prevention: A multidimensional approach. Physical Therapy Journal. January 2012; 92(1): 164-178.