Tips to prevent and treat Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the quality and density of bone is reduced and the bone becomes porous. The major risk in osteoporosis is getting a fracture which affects one’s mobility and independence. There is a reduction in bone mineral density which makes it susceptible for fractures. There are many contributing factors in development of osteoporosis and one of them is lack of physical activity. Regular exercise is important in prevention and treatment of Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed through BMD (Bone Mass Density) testing. The most common technique used for testing BMD is DXA scan but there are also other test methods available.
Exercise and Bone Strength
Bone grows stronger in reaction to forces acting on it and exercise increases these forces more than normal. Many studies have indicated that around the age of 30 – 35 years, bone reaches its maximum density and strength. This explains why regular exercises done before 30 – 35 years of age are important for maximizing bone strength. And those who continue exercising in their middle age and beyond reduce the risk of acquiring osteoporosis, as it slows down the bone loss with aging.
Exercise as treatment for osteoporosis
By now we know that exercise is important for bone strength, which is why exercise is an important part of treatment for osteoporosis. People suffering from osteoporosis are prone to fractures in cases involving falls or other high impact incidents. Osteoporosis can also lead to spinal fractures following bending, twisting or compression of the spine and also from postural factors. As you grow older and get caught up with Osteoporosis, your upper back gets hunched easily, which thereby increases compressive forces at spine and can result in fracture.
Weight bearing aerobic exercises like jogging, marching, brisk walking and dancing are a good way to target osteoporosis. Apart from these exercises, balance and muscle strengthening exercises are also important. Muscular strength and balance helps in fall prevention. Strengthening of back muscles helps in supporting spine and reduces chances of spinal fractures.
Before you start
It’s important to undergo a medical health screening and risk stratification, for a person who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and wants to start exercising. Once the risk stratification is done, an optimum exercise plan is prescribed by the health care professional.
Patients with osteoporosis should avoid high impact and explosive movements. Movements involving bending, twisting and compression at spine should be avoided. A low to moderate intensity controlled activities are prescribed which do not cause pain.
Frequency of weight bearing exercises can range from 3 – 5 times a week with 2 – 3 sessions of resistance training per week. Resistance exercises can be performed using light weights, exercise bands or tubes, whereas balance exercises should be a part of every exercise session and can also be performed separately. Examples of balance exercises are single leg balance supported/unsupported or heel to toe walk.
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