From your mid 30s onwards, both men and women lose bone thickness and strength. Approaching menopause women lose bone at a greater rate than men, infact they lose bone at 2-5 % per annum. The condition know as osteporosis can strike at any age and is called the "silent thief " because bone loss is occuring without any symptoms. It has no single cause but affects women at a far greater rate than men. It has been said that it's a "paediatric disease that manifests in adult life". Peak bone mass for women occurs at age 16, not laying down as much bone whilst young can have severe long term consequences. However, how many parents know or understand the issues of inactivity in youth?
The reduced quality of life for those affected is enormous. Mobility becomes reduced, independence becomes reduced and disfigurement can occur. It's amazing to know that at least 80% of fractures in the over 60's are related to osteoporosis.
One of the ways to identify the condition is through a Bone Mass Density test (BMD). This test should be taken by all men and women over 65, postmenopausal women over 50, people with high risk factors (family history of hip fractures, smokers, high alcohol consumers, low body weight, high risk medication use, people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, hyperthyroidism and malabsorption syndrome to name but a few).
So what does Osteoporosis Canada (www.osteoporosis.ca) recommend?
Drugs can be prescribed that slows down the rate of loss (the Bishosphonates family for example), improved nutrition: for example, calcium is essential to maintain life and this can come from the food we eat. As an example, at age 50 we need 1200mg a day of calcium (think milk, cheese, yogurt, vegetables, salmon, sardines, lentils, beans, or even some form of supplementation). Additionally, to absorb calcium the body needs Vitamin D, this can come form exposure to the sun, diet or supplementation.
Now the kicker, physical activity is essential in risk reduction and treatment of osteoporosis, placing increased force or load on the bones helps them to remodel and become stronger. Physical activity is also helpful to improve balance and thus reduce fall potential. It is suggested that individuals work on strength, posture, core stability, balance and weight bearing activities. As a general guide the following recommendation seems consistent with research;
To increase bone mass density and reduce fracture risk, loading 2-3 x per week, 2-3 sets, 8-10 reps of weight bearing activity, with emphasis on spinal extension, stair walking, brisk walking and find some time for Tai Chi.
Its time to get in the gym folks....get some specific advice from a trained osteoporisis specialist, why not set up a consultation now with a recommended expert.