Osteoporosis is a major health concern for our aging population and is a growing concern, because it's not going away - it's getting worse in its national spread. Osteoporosis is a degradation of the bones due to many factors. Three of the major factors are due to the declining amounts of Oestrogen, in women, and Testosterone, in men, that is released as we get older. This combined with a lack of absorption (and intake) of vitamin D and vitamin C, which are both essential for bone health, are all factors in the onset of Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is on the rise in Australia, which is a scary thought, especially when you look at the prevention measures of Osteoporosis and all that is possible to help put you in a low risk category. Predictions taken from the Osteoporosis Australia website show that by 2022, there will be 6.2 million Australians over the age of 50 living with Osteoporosis. That's approximately a 31% increase on statistics from 2012. This in large is linked to the increasing population of our aging Australians.
"This makes sense", you say, "Because as the population increases, of course the disease will as well". However, as a Personal Trainer and advocate of exercise and nutrition, I find this very troubling. Nearly 70% of Australian's still do not get adequate amounts of exercise, in particular weight bearing exercise (swimming and cycling for leisure are not considered weight bearing). More than 60% of Australian's are either overweight or obese. This tells me that we are first of all, not doing enough weight bearing exercise and secondly, we are not receiving enough nutrition from our food choices. Three of the major preventative factors of Osteoporosis are physical activity and Vitamins C and D.
A few years ago, my father (pictured) recovered from both prostate cancer and later on a stroke. Thank goodness, he recovered well, though unfortunately, due to the highly sedentary nature of his recovery from having the cancer and stroke in succession, my father no longer led the active lifestyle he had and was diagnosed with Osteoporosis. He even developed necrosis in a section of his femur bone which makes up part of the knee joint, for which he had to seek a much more involved type of treatment. To combat the Osteoporosis, Dad now trains with me and performs his weight training in a safe manner, appropriate for him. As far as exercise goes, resistance training is one of the best ways to strengthen bones. The reason I bring my father into discussion is because I want people to know that it's never too late to start exercising and training, a Personal Trainer is perfect for anyone who requires more specific guidance and care.
Exercises that I focus on with my father, and exercises you may want to focus on if you are an 'at risk person', are for strengthening his leg muscles, core and postural muscles. Leg muscles to help keep his 'bad' knee strong and legs strong so that he can maintain his independence and mobility. I also work on his leg muscles and core because of how his stroke has affected his ability to balance - so performing exercises that require him to balance are also in his program. The risks of bone breakages due to a fall are greatly increased for a person who has osteoporosis and the complications from broken bones for a person with osteoporosis can be extremely concerning.
If you have a sedentary job (it's estimated that the average desk worker sits approximately 40+ hours a week, not including travel time), you may really want to take a considered look at how much and what type of exercise you achieve throughout the week. What foods do you eat and how much sun do you see (within reason) a week for vitamin D levels? If you're much younger than 50 and not of the 'at risk' age, now is the best time to take action with your health and fitness into your future. Other factors to consider, which increase the risk of Osteoporosis are smoking, diet, some chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, some medications for breast cancer, prostate cancer, epilepsy and some antidepressants, large amounts of alcohol intake (more than 14 drinks a week) and excess body weight.
If you are concerned about your bone health, make sure you consult your GP for further advice. Below is also a great website, which has further information on Osteoporosis and a free self-assessment check that you can take to your GP. I discovered from doing the self-check, that I am an 'at risk' person, because Osteoporosis is hereditary. I have also had broken bones (as have some of my siblings) and I don't get at least 20 mins of daylight per day. However, since I am a very active person, this is in my favour. I have had bone scans before and have above average bone density, which is linked to the physical activity I do.
If you would like to learn more about Osteoporosis, visit the Osteoporosis Australia website:
Finally, please remember that prevention is the best defence and it's never too late to start. If you think you need help with exercise and resistance training, please feel free to get in touch.
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