Are your bones strong enough?

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald reported a third of Australians over 65 years are doing no exercise, and many more are not doing enough to improve strength, co-ordination and balance.  The Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport published a study that revealed the older population mostly took part in aerobic activities such as walking, which is beneficial to cardiovascular fitness but does little to protect the exerciser against falls or loss of bone mass.

Osteoporosis is a chronic, progressive disease and is one of the most common metabolic bone diseases in people over 65. It has been most frequently recognized in elderly women, although it does occur in both genders, all races, and age groups. It is characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility. Unfortunately the disease often does not become apparent until a fracture occurs (usually from a fall).

Another term that is linked with osteoporosis is osteopenia. Osteopenia refers to a bone mineral density (BMD) that is lower than normal but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. Bone mineral density is a measurement of the level of minerals in the bones, which shows how dense and strong they are.

Physiotherapy can help to reduce your risk of osteoporosis by improving your strength, flexibility, posture, and balance. Spinal bone mineral density (BMD) is linked with the strength of the back extensors; therefore, maintaining and strengthening the back extensors should be emphasized.

Regular weight-bearing exercises are essential for the maintenance of bone mass  and should be encouraged in all patients, including children and adolescents. Exercise also improves agility and balance, thereby reducing the risk of falls.

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