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3 effective exercises to prevent osteoporosis as you age.

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Osteoporosis as you age is something many Australians are faced with. Despite its impacts, osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease as many people don’t notice they have developed it until a bone snaps or breaks.

This is why it is even more important to recognise what the condition is, the symptoms and tips for preventing osteoporosis as you age.

What is osteoporosis?

We all know that exercise is essential to life, even as we age. Getting into the habit of exercising early is the best way to reap the rewards and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis as you age.

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones to the point where they can become weak and brittle. Because of this you are more likely to fracture or break a bone if you have a mild injury or minor fall if you suffer from osteoporosis.

The good news is that the condition can be both prevented and managed through lifestyle changes, or reducing risk factors that make you more likely to be diagnosed.

Who is at risk of developing osteoporosis?

There are both preventable and unpreventable risk factors which can lead to osteoporosis. Some of these include:

Risk factors that can be prevented/ reduced: 

  • Limited physical activity.
  • Low body weight.
  • Low muscle mass and strength.
  • High alcohol intake or smoking.
  • Not eating enough energy rich foods.

Risk factors that can’t be prevented:

  • Being over 70 years of age.
  • Being female.
  • Having fallen in the past.
  • Early menopause.

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

As previously mentioned osteoporosis can be a silent disease, where the symptoms aren’t always obvious to the person with the condition in the early phases. There are some symptoms to look out for that indicate osteoporosis as you age, including:

  • Gradual height loss.
  • Tiny cracks in your bone, known as stress fractures.
  • Back pain.
  • Poor posture.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have developed osteoporosis as you age, it’s a good idea to check in with your GP if you have concerns.

Ways to prevent osteoporosis as you age:

There are three types of exercises in particular that older Australians could try to doing prevent or minimise osteoporosis as you age. These include aerobic exercise, strength training and balance training.

As long as you find the exercise that suits you and exercise under the correct guidance, moderate exercise can effectively prevent disease, reduce the risk of disease, or delay the onset of symptoms.

1. Aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise is generally low-impact, it is an exercise that does not cause too much stress on the joints and bones and includes brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or pedalling.

This will make the heart beat faster and accelerate blood circulation. It is suggested that you start with moderate and short-term exercise at first, then gradually increase the exercise intensity and lengthen the time to give the body a staged adaptation.

If you are concerned about developing osteoporosis as you age, and have the ability to try these types of exercises, it could be worth doing to help prevent the condition.

2. Strength training.

As you age, you may start to notice your muscle strength weaken, and your ligaments and tendons will gradually lose their elasticity. Regular strength training can help strengthen bones and muscles, reduce bone loss, and reduce the chance of fractures caused by falls.

Strength training is very simple, you can start with simple exercises, such as sitting on a chair, holding a bottle of water, and focusing on the movement from sitting to standing, which can help exercise your lower body muscles.

Elastic bands are also a good tool that can be used as part of training.

It is recommended to do muscle strength training at least twice a week and rest for 2 days before continuing after one training session.

If you feel like your muscles are stronger, you can gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise.

3. Balance exercises.

The purpose of balance exercises is to improve your balance and prevent common accidents such as falls. As you age you may be more likely to suffer from more serious injuries, therefore it is important to maintain a good balance.

You can also use flexibility and stretching exercises to help the muscles soften and prevent the body from becoming stiff. These types of exercises can also be used as a warm-up before aerobic exercises and a cool-down exercise at the end. You should do this exercise somewhere you can lean and put weight on, such as a chair and other equipment.

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