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. Many clients in your facility could be at risk of acquiring osteoporosis, or may have already been diagnosed. 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. There are some simple exercises that you can incorporate into your programs to benefit these individuals. Not only are they good for prevention of osteoporosis, but they help to build overall strength which is a key factor in maintaining health and independence as we age.
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 recommends exercises that build muscle strength and can involve everyday movements: push, pull, carry, squat, bend, step, lift. This can be done in the gym and as a fitness leader you can also give your clients examples of exercises that they can do at home.
– Push-ups at the counter (instead of on the floor, just push against the counter).
– Get in and out of your chair without using your arms 10 times a day. Do 10 squats or lunges while watching TV. If that is too easy, squat while holding a heavy object, or do one legged squats.
– If your client likes yoga, practice going from downward dog to cobra, and repeat. This is a good way to work upper back muscles.
– Check out this video series for more ideas.
And remind your clients about the right intensity. When they start out, aim for eight to twelve repetitions with good form. Then, make the exercises harder as they get stronger. That’s key! To build strength they have to increase the challenge over time.