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One condition for which fitness and exercise can make a huge difference is osteoporosis. This is a common disease which affects more than 1 in 3 post menopausal women and over 1 in 20 men.

Osteoporosis is characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, which leads to bone fragility and fractures. Fractures as a result of osteoporosis can occur throughout the skeleton, but are most common in the spine, the top of the femur, and the wrist.

Although osteoporosis can occur at any age, it is more often found in older people, particularly women. Additional factors contributing to osteoporosis include a diet low in calcium, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, low levels of physical activity, and immobility. Hyperthyroidism and diabetes can also play a part as can amenorrhoea (absence of periods), nulliparity (no pregnancies) and being of slender build.

Research has shown that some forms of physical activity can slow down or even reverse bone loss. Weight bearing activities such as walking, weight training, circuit training and aerobics can positively affect bone density and are thus recommended. However, you should talk to a trainer with experience in this area before starting an exercise programme.

Guidelines for exercising are as follows:
  • Weight bearing activities which involve some impact should be encouraged on a daily basis. e.g. stepping, stair climbing and brisk walking.

  • Avoid forward flexion (as in abdominal curls) if you have established osteoporosis, as this will increase the risk of new vertebral fractures.

  • Emphasis should be on core exercises.

  • Activities improving balance and co-ordination are good, but those requiring rapid changes of direction are not recommended.
  • Correct posture is crucial.

  • Exercise needs to strengthen the trapezius, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and gluteals, as well as promoting correct breathing techniques.




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