Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.  It affects one in three women and one in five men.  Osteoporosis causes the bone to deteriorate and become porous, this means that bone strength decreases and the chance of the bone breaking is increased.  The daily recommendation for intake of calcium is 1000mg.  For some people, it can be a challenge to get enough calcium from food alone, therefore calcium supplements may be encouraged to combine with meals. Insufficient calcium intake is the main reason as to why elderly people have bone density loss.  According to Osteoporosis Canada, fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. Research indicates that women are more prone to developing osteoporosis than men, however, men are also at risk.  Additionally, Caucasians have an increased risk as opposed to other ethnic groups who typically have a higher bone density mass.

There are factors that can cause one to develop osteoporosis that are uncontrollable:

  • age (women over 50 and men over 70)
  • family history
  • race
  • menopause

Controllable factor that can lead to the development of osteoporosis include:

  • lack of exercise
  • confinement to bed
  • low body fat
  • heavy smoking
  • excessive alcohol use
  • low calcium intake over a period of time
  • high sodium intake
  • excessive intake of protein shakes

According to Mayo Clinic there are no early stage symptoms of osteoporosis.  Once bones have deteriorated symptoms will start to show.  Symptoms include:

  • back pain
  • loss in height over time
  • a stooped posture
  • a bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected

Treatment for osteoporosis includes drug treatment such as bisphosphonates.  Hormones (estrogen) have also been proven to be effective in preventing and treating osteoporosis.  Incorporating a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and exercise remains to be on of the leading methods of prevention for most diseases.  The benefits of exercise in treating osteoporosis are outlined below:

Exercise builds muscle strength

Strength training improves muscle mass and strength.

For fall prevention 

Performing challenging balance exercises can improve balance and coordination, which helps prevent falls, and this in turn may prevent fractures.

To protect the spine

Spine fractures are often caused by forces, or “loads,” on the vertebrae that are greater than they can withstand. Exercises that target the muscles that extend your back can help improve posture, reducing the risk of spine fractures.

To slow the rate of bone loss

Exercises aimed at increasing muscle strength (i.e., strength or resistance training), combined with weight-bearing aerobic physical activity, help to prevent bone loss as we age.

Other benefits

Whether or not you have osteoporosis, regular exercise improves health in many ways. People who exercise regularly have lower rates of depression, heart disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes and many other chronic diseases. Exercise can improve your physical fitness, strength, energy levels, stamina and mental health.

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