Preventative Exercise Therapy

Posted by Leigh MacKenzie, March 12, 2014

A woman exercises with light weights.

As the Canadian population starts to age and people are starting to live longer, health practitioners are finding certain conditions such as osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis to be more prevalent. Post-menopausal women must take extra care and attention to their bone densities, s their bone densities are lost at an accelerated pace.  One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis is through exercise.

Exercise has been known to prevent, and even reverse some conditions. Especially with the aging population, falls due to brittle bones (ie. from osteoporosis) are one of the major causes of disability and loss of independence in seniors.  Approximately 80-90% of those with osteoporosis are women, but men are not immune to this condition. The risk factors associated with osteoporosis include:

  1. History of a fracture in adulthood
  2. History of a fracture in a parent or sibling
  3. Cigarette smoking
  4. Small build, or tendency to be underweight
  5. White or Asian female
  6. Sedentary lifestyle
  7. Early menopause
  8. Eating disorder
  9. High protein intake

10.  Excessive sodium intake

11.  Alcohol abuse

12.  Calcium deficient diet

13.  High caffeine intake

14.  Vitamin D deficiency

Exercise slows the rate of skeletal aging and promotes bone density growth.  The amount of growth is related to the amount of impact placed on the bone – the higher impact activity, the denser the bone growth. This is not to say we should get all adults with osteoporosis to do high impact exercises such as gymnastics, volleyball, or plyometric fitness exercises, exercise selection should be carefully based on the individual capabilities and health status. Physical therapists can help guide those at risk of, or those who have osteoporosis through proper exercises to build muscle, bone density, improve balance and posture, and decrease pain and risk of falls.

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