Part One: Keeping your bones strong

Did you know that regular physical activity and exercise is important in keeping your bones healthy and strong?

Exercise is known as one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to help make bones as strong as possible, reducing the risk of fractures later in life.

Osteoporosis - what happens when you have weak bones

When your bones are fragile and brittle, you are at a greater risk of fractures than in normal bones. This condition is called osteoporosis. It is a common condition affecting 1.2 million Australians. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone density). Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the most common sites are the hip, spine, wrist, upper arm, forearm or ribs. Fractures in the spine due to osteoporosis can result in changes in posture and height loss.

As bones become thinner and less dense, even a minor bump or fall can cause a serious fracture. Falls are a common cause of fractures for people with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis usually has no symptoms until a fracture occurs – this is why it is often called the ‘silent disease’.

How do we get strong bones?

Our bones are living tissues. They have their own blood vessels and are made up of living cells, which help them to grow and repair themselves. As a result, our bones are always being broken down and rebuilt.

Getting our bones as strong as possible

The most important time to ensure we have strong bones is in childhood and adolescence. This is because much more bone is deposited than withdrawn, so the skeleton grows in both size and density.

Up to 90% of peak bone mass (indicator of bone strength) is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys. The amount of bone tissue in the skeleton known as bone mass, can keep growing until around age 30. At that point, bones have reached their maximum strength and density, known as peak bone mass.

The Special Case for Postmenopausal Women & Bone Health

Women tend to experience minimal change in total bone mass between age 30 and menopause. But in the first few years after menopause, most women go through rapid bone loss, which then slows but continues throughout the postmenopausal years. This loss of bone mass can lead to osteoporosis. Given the knowledge that high peak bone density reduces osteoporosis risk later in life, it makes sense to pay more attention to those factors that affect peak bone mass.

To find out more about what kinds of exercise are important for bone health depending on what part of the lifestyle you are in, click on the link below for our other article on bone health called Part Two: What kind of exercise keeps our bones strong?

Are you interested in improving your bone strength? Here at Balanced Bodies Lifestyle Clinic we have been able to help people improve their bone strength or reduce their risk of falls through specifically prescribed exercise programs. If you would like to inquire about how we can help you, please contact us on 0419 287 631 or info@bblifestyleclinic.com.au.