Boost Your Bones

Physical activity is vital for bone health throughout our lives.

“Bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger,” said Physiotherapist at Gold Coast Sports and Spinal Physio, Melanie Roberts.

“Just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, a bone becomes stronger and denser when you place demands on it.”

Osteoporosis, meaning ‘porous bones’, is a disease where bone density and structure deteriorate, leading to weakness, bone fragility and increased risk of fracture.

Statistics indicate that one in two women and one in three men aged 60 and over will sustain an osteoporotic fracture, with some of the most common sites for fracture the wrist, spine and hip.

Two types of exercises are important for building and maintaining bone mass and density – weight-bearing and resistance exercises.

“Weight-bearing exercises are those in which your bones and muscles work against gravity,” Ms Roberts explained.

“This is any exercise in which your feet and legs are bearing your weight, for example jogging, walking, stair climbing and dancing.

“The second type of exercise is resistance exercise or activities that use muscular strength to improve muscle mass and strengthen bone.

“These activities include the use of weights, such as free weights and weight machines found in gyms.”

Daily activities and many sports involve a combination of these two types of exercises, so an active lifestyle filled with varied physical activities will strengthen muscles and improve bone strength.

However, it’s essential to keep it up, as the benefits of training only persist for as long as you do the activity.

Ms Roberts said that exercise is particularly important for women, as they experience a steeper decline in bone mass density post-menopause, and that balance exercises are also an important part of exercise programs to reduce the risk of falls.

“For people already diagnosed with a low bone mass density, physical activity that involves twisting, bending or high impact, like golf and tennis, should be avoided, as they apply too much stress to weakened bones,” she said.  

“Swimming, water aerobics, dancing, low impact aerobics, walking, cycling and light resistance weight training are more suitable.”

If you are frail, have had a fracture, fall frequently or have osteoporosis, consult with your practitioner or physiotherapist before commencing or changing your exercise program.

By Melanie Roberts

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