Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and density, which are risk factors for fractures (hip, spine, and wrist). Also, osteoporosis increases the prevalence of falls which result in a substantially reduced quality of life.
About 75-80% of bone health is predetermined by genetic factors (e.g., sex and family history). However, the rest of the 20-25% are factors that we can monitor, control, and intervene. Diet and physical activity – these elements, if appropriately addressed, can have a strong impact on bone health.
Calcium and vitamin D are the most important micronutrients for an individual with osteoporosis. Other essential dietary suggestions included vitamin B-12, magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc. A balanced and healthy diet should satisfy the recommended daily intake; however, before considering taking supplements, it is suggested to consult with your family physician.
Exercise training was shown to improve bone health, and it is beneficial at any age. The following are a few interesting points regarding the relationship between physical activity and bone density in women ages 20-40 years:
- Non-active sedentary young women shown 15% less bone mass compared to active women at the same age.
- 2 hours of jogging per week = increase bone mass by 5% compared to non-active women.
- 4 hours aerobic working – produce another 10 % increase compared to non-active peers.
- Increasing duration and intensity of aerobic exercise over 10 hours per week was not found to elicit any further benefits (bone strength).
- To achieve an extra 5% increase, an individual must be involved in additional resistance training programs (minimum of 2 hours per week).
Aerobic Exercise Recommendations:
- Type: Walking, cycling, jogging (Weight-bearing activities are preferred.)
- Frequency: 4-5 days per week
- Intensity: Moderate effort
- Duration: Start with 20 minutes ——-> progress to 30 minutes
Resistance Training Recommendations:
- Type: Free weights, machines, adequate instructions required
- Frequency: Start with 1-2 days per week ———> progress to 2-3 days per week
- Intensity: Moderate- high
- Duration: Start with a set of 8-12 repetitions ——–> progress to 2 sets
Flexibility Training Recommendations:
- Type: Static stretches
- Frequency: 5-7 days per week
- Intensity: Stretch to point of slight discomfort
- Duration: 10- 30 seconds per stretch
In addition to weight-bearing exercises, yoga (dynamic tension) offers another option to rebuild bone. Poses that focus on bone strength are recommended. Practicing yoga poses, such as the bridge, dolphin, and warrior, were shown to promote bone strength. For more information about the benefits of yoga in osteoporosis conditions: Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide