By Bobbi Moger/Contributor
Osteoporosis is a disorder in which bone density decreases and susceptibility to fracture increases.
Bone loss is a part of normal aging, however; with osteoporosis bone mass drops so that the risk of sustaining a fracture is elevated.
Osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures are a major public health problem. One in four women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Spine, hip and wrist fractures are the most common. Women can lose up to 15 per cent of their bone mass in the 10 years around menopause.
Men also suffer from osteoporosis but this has only recently come to the general public’s attention. It is estimated one in eight men are affected.
Some of the factors that can cause an individual to lose bone faster than normal include hormonal and genetic factors, lifestyle factors including physical inactivity and nutrition and the use of some medications. When a senior already has porous, brittle bones due to osteoporosis, focusing on preventing falls is paramount in reducing the risk of fractures as a result of a fall. Some 30 per cent of those over 65 fall at least once per year and half of that number fall recurrently. Once an individual suffers a fall, they may reduce their activity for fear of falling again.
Physical inactivity is an understood risk factor for osteoporosis. Even individuals who have led sedentary lives can increase bone mass by becoming more active.
Balance and resistance training is the treatment that can improve low bone density and muscle mass which promotes strength gain and improve balance. The better balance one acquires, the more independence and confidence with fewer falls and fractures.
BC Women’s Hospital and Health Center has designed a specialized Osteofit fitness program especially for those with osteoporosis, osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis) and individuals whose goals are to increase bone mass and prevent falls.
These classes focus on improving strength, posture, balance and agility through the use of functional exercises, agility and resistance training.
Participants can improve their ability to perform activities of daily living including the ability to rise up from chairs, get in and out of bed, go to the toilet without assistance and groom themselves.
Other important objectives of this program are to decrease participant’s fear of exercise and promote active living and joy of movement with ability-appropriate exercises, education on exercise safety and opportunities to make new friends. For more information on the Osteofit program, call 250-317-3508.
Bobbi Moger is a seniors’ fitness specialist in Kelowna.