Osteoporosis is a silent disease without any obvious symptoms which is why 4 out of 5 people with osteoporosis do not even know they have it and therefore are unaware they are at risk of fracturing a bone. 1.2 million Australians suffer with osteoporosis and a further 6.3 million people suffer from low bone density (osteopenia), which is a predecessor to osteoporosis. It can progress without people being aware that they have the disease until they break a bone. Therefore it is important that osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Alarming statistics show that after the first fracture there is a 2-4 times greater risk of re-fracture occurring within 12 months!
Exercise & Bone Density
Regular physical activity and exercise plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones. Exercise is recognised as one of the more successful lifestyle approaches to help make bones as strong as possible, reducing the risk of fractures later in life. As well as improving or preserving bone density, exercise increases the size and strength of muscles. Exercise will also maintain bone health in adulthood, and helps to improve balance and co-origination in the elderly to reduce the risk of falls. Exercise must be consistent and ongoing to have any proper benefit.
Exercise to Increase Bone Density
Bones become stronger when a certain amount of extra stress is placed on them these include:
- Weight-bearing exercises (walking, jogging, stair climbing)
- Resistance training (lifting weights)
- Moderate to high impact weight bearing exercises (jumping, football, tennis)
- Balance and mobility exercises to reduce falls (standing on one leg with eyes closed)
Recovering from a Fracture
Rehabilitation is imperative following a fracture. A Physiotherapist will provide an exercise-based program as part of your rehabilitation, which is designed to get you back to your previous level of function.
Common fractures in elderly people:
Hip Fractures: Rehab will generally commence 1-2 days post op which will consist of an individualised lower limb strength protocol; starting off with body weight exercises and progressing into resistance training. Patients who carry through with resistance based training 12 months post op have shown an improvement in everyday life activities such as walking, climbing stairs, standing up and maintaining bone and muscle strength compared to those who fail to follow through with their rehabilitation program.
Spinal Fractures: Rehab will generally not commence until after the fracture has healed as the pain can last anywhere between 6-8 weeks after the event. Exercise should be supervised by a Physiotherapist to prevent any further injury. Your Physiotherapist will commence strength-based exercises for the back, core bracing exercises as well as providing advice on correct posture to reduce the risk of any further damage.
Are you at Risk?
Have you recently been diagnosed with low bone density? Do you suffer from brittle bones and fracture easily? Then perhaps we can help!! BOOK AN APPOINTMENT TODAY with one of our Physiotherapists who has a special interest in assessing your risk of falls, strength levels and can decide on the appropriate prescription of strengthening exercises to improve bone mineral density and bone health.
Even if you have never broken a bone and are over the age of 45 PREVENTION IS KEY! Lets get you more stable on your feet, improve the strength of your bones as well as muscle tissue to reduce the risk of a fracture so you can live a better quality of life.