Your guide to building strong bones
When we think about doing exercise or going to the gym, we often think of our muscles and making them stronger. Rarely, our first thought is about improving our bone strength. Well that is about to change.
What is bone density?
Bone density relates to how strong our bones are. The condition that is associated with a loss in bone mineral density is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a very common condition in Australia, affecting around 900,000 Australians in 2017. More common in older women, affecting 29% of women over 75 and 10% of men over 75.
Bone density is measured by your t-score which is a measure compared to that of a regular, healthy bone. According to the World Health Organisation, a t-score between -1.0 and -2.5 is diagnosed as osteopenia (a condition one step before osteoporosis) and a t-score below -2.5 is diagnosed as osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition when the bones in the human body become fragile and weak which then in turn increases the risk of fractures or other serious injury, even from minor accidents.
One of the more prominent risk factors for osteoporosis is living a sedentary lifestyle. This means that most of the day is spent doing little to no physical activity throughout the day. As we age, we tend to be more sedentary without work and at the same time we are gradually losing bone strength due to the aging process. This means if we are living a sedentary lifestyle, we are expediting the loss of strength in our bones.
What can you do about it?
The good news is that you can take a proactive approach to improve your bone density and therefore improve your overall health.
Exercise can be osteogenic which means it actually helps build bone, hence why exercise is such an important part in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. The three main types of exercise that are important to focus on is progressive resistance training, impact loading and balance training. With these three types of exercises combined, it provides you with the best chance to improve or slow down the rate of bone loss.
The three main types of exercise we focus on are:
Progressive resistance training (PRT)
PRT is a form of exercise that focuses on improving muscle strength and size, in turn improving our overall musculoskeletal strength. This includes exercises such as squats, bicep curls and shoulder press. This type of exercise should form the foundation of a good quality program.
Impact loading is the most osteogenic form of exercise that we can perform to help stimulate bone growth. This includes things like jumping and skipping. Some caution should be taken with this form of exercise though and should be completed only after a baseline level of strength has been accumulated through PRT.
Balance training does not have a direct impact on improving our bone strength but due to the fact that if we have a fall when we have low bone density, we are at an increased risk of fractures and disability. As part of the natural aging process, we lose our ability to balance and use our senses to help with this. It is important to train our balance to decrease the risk of falls.
At Science of Fitness, we have had multiple success stories with some of our members improving their bone density through our Fit Over 50s exercise classes. Our approach is to deliver a well considered periodised strength program that encompasses all the aspects needed to help improve older adults' muscle strength and size and therefore, improve their bone strength. We measure and test our clients every 12 weeks to ensure that improvements are being made or areas that need to be focused on.
To learn more, come along to our Bone Density Seminar held this Saturday 30th April at our SOF Platinum Studio. Register for your tickets here.