When you think of ways to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, you probably think of eating your greens, consuming protein, and supplementing calcium. However, you may not think of exercise and movement as a way to decrease the risk of osteoporosis. In fact, exercise along with proper nutrition are the two best ways you can help prevent or delay the onset of osteoporosis.
In Canada, 1 in 3 women are likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis versus our male counterparts (who have a 1 in 5 chance at breaking a bone), meaning 33% of the female population will be hospitalized due to a fracture in our lifetime.¹
Osteoporosis is defined by Osteoporosis Canada as a condition that causes bones to become thin and porous, decreasing bone strength and leading to increased risk of breaking a bone.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
The onset of osteoporosis can be determined by your bone mass, though symptoms of osteoporosis are usually silent until a bone fracture. Peak bone mass is determined via four smaller determinants including:
- Mechanical factors
Research has shown that genetics or family history is a huge determinant in whether or not you will develop osteoporosis in your lifetime, and sadly we can’t change genetics.
Hormones such as female and male sex hormones also aid in whether or not people will develop osteoporosis, with research finding that low levels of estrogen in females can help in the development of this disease. When women reach menopause, and estrogen starts decreasing, the prevalence of osteoporosis is greater.
The two factors we can change are nutrition and mechanical stimuli.
Basic nutritional guidelines for osteoporosis prevention can be found online on the Osteoporosis Canada website or by contacting a nutrition specialist like a registered dietitian, family doctor or nutritionist.
Last but certainly not least, mechanical stimuli (i.e. loading the bones in your body via exercise and general physical activity) is something we can all work on. By loading the bones, we increase bone mass and make them stronger. That’s how exercise can help you stay strong and fight against this silent disease by staying strong through every stage of life.
Therefore, our goal should be to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle throughout our lives to decrease the chances of developing osteoporosis. If we plan to stay active and make the right choices with our food and lifestyle habits, we can help control 50% of the risk factors to developing this disease.
Exercise Prescription Guidelines for Osteoporosis Prevention
If you are looking for physical activities to incorporate into your daily routine, check out these General Exercise Prescription Guidelines for Osteoporosis Prevention that I have put together.
*Note: If you currently have a diagnosis of osteoporosis or other under-lying conditions, these guidelines may not be right for you – contact an exercise specialist or physiotherapist at Propel Physiotherapy for more information on how to stay active.
At Propel Physiotherapy, we develop customized exercise programs for osteoporosis prevention and for women and men who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Contact us for more information.
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