After the age of 40, we lose 0.5% to 1% of the bone mass in our skeleton each year. A diagnosis of osteoporosis means that bones have weakened to the point where they could break from a simple fall.
Osteoporosis affects about 1.4 million Canadians. One in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will have a fracture due to osteoporosis at some point, often caused by a fall. Fractures can lead to other health problems and loss of function, or independence.
We know that everyone loses bone mass and muscle strength as they age, starting as early as their 30s or 40s. By the time we get to an age when we start to notice, or have health problems, it is harder to gain the muscle or bone back. We are not even sure that it is possible to replace lost bone with exercise once it is gone. We do know that it is possible to build muscle size and strength, even if we start later in life. And certain types of exercise have been shown to prevent falls by up to 40%. That’s why everyone should do some strength training a few times a week, and challenge their balance every day.
Each of us is different. Your clients need to choose an exercise program that fits their needs, lifestyle, and abilities. They should start by talking with a health care provider, such as a certified exercise physiologist, or other qualified staff at your facility.
Bone FitTM is an exercise training workshop designed for physical therapists, kinesiologists and community exercise professionals. You will learn effective and appropriate exercises for people with osteoporosis. You can learn more about the workshop and find Bone Fit-trained individuals here.
Dr. Lora Giangregorio is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. She is also the Schlegel Research Chair in Mobility and Aging. She worked with Osteoporosis Canada and a team of talented students at the University of Waterloo to create a set of free educational tools called “Too Fit to Fracture.” The tools can help you develop an exercise program for your members. They include:
• a one-page quick reference guide available in several languages
• an in-depth booklet
• an engaging video series telling stories of five very different people, and demonstrating their exercises. As a fitness professional, make sure that you:
check out these tools and resources
are offering safe and effective balance and strength classes for older adults
have qualified staff to lead the classes and counsel your members
and remember to always make the classes fun and sociable