When we hear the word Osteoporosis we may think of elderly people with frail bones, and thin frames. The truth about Osteo, however, is that 3% of men and 19% of women over 50 will suffer from Osteoporosis. Women are more likely to develop this disease post menopause which can be much younger than 50. [Source]
The good news is that there are precautions we can take while we’re younger that will decrease the likelihood of developing Osteoporosis later in life.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a deterioration of the bones compromising the density and structure of the bone itself. A normal bone close up kind of resembles the inside of a Coffee Crisp bar with tiny holes throughout. A bone affected by Osteo however, would resemble Swiss cheese with larger more frequent holes which make the entire structure weaker. This means that people with Osteoporosis are likely to fracture or break bones very easily. A harmless bump, a quick turn, or even a hard cough can result in an Osteo fracture!
What Can We do?
Although some populations are more at risk for developing Osteoporosis like age and gender, there are steps we can take to decrease the risk of developing the disease. Our diet and habits play a big role in the development of Osteo. For instance, people who have poor diets and general malnutrition; diets that include excessive caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic beverages are more likely to develop Osteoporosis. By eating a healthy diet, especially including foods that are high in calcium, vitamin D, and Magnesium you can vastly improve your bone density over time. Maintaining healthy habits is equally important, activities such as smoking, living a mostly sedentary lifestyle, and lack of muscle strength can also all affect bone integrity. [Source]
Exercise And Osteo
Here’s the thing, regular exercise is one of the easiest ways to prevent decreased bone density! If you already have Osteoporosis and are reading this, note that it is important to do the right exercises. For instance flexion or rounding of the spine can be harmful to people with Osteoporosis, also rotation can put them at high risk for fracture (check here for more info). For prevention purposes exercises in quadroped (all-fours), standing work, and the use of weights are all beneficial for building and maintaining bone density. Here are a few bone building Pilates exercises that I use with my Osteo clients, or clients that are at high risk for developing the disease.
For more information about Osteoporosis, or to donate to the Osteoporosis Association of Canada, click here.