Exercise Reduces Risk of Falls and Fractures in Patients with Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is characterized by abnormally low bone mass, micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue leading to increased bone fragility, and a consequent increase in fracture risk. The term osteoporosis is widely used clinically to mean generalized loss of bone, or osteopenia, accompanied by relatively atraumatic fractures of the spine, wrist, hips, or ribs. It is manifested clinically as fractures, and, on noninvasive quantitative imaging tests, as low bone density. Osteoporotic fractures, particularly in aging women, represent a major health problem in industrialized nations. In the United States, approximately 150,000 hip fractures occur annually in women over age 65, with 15 percent to 25 percent of these women experiencing excess mortality or needing long-term nursing home care. While a certain amount of bone loss seems inevitable with the passage of time, the process is not entirely beyond our control. Dietary and lifestyle measures can, to some degree, help maintain bone health. Poor nutrition and other health habits such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and physical inactivity contribute to bone loss. Exercise, especially through activities like walking that put pressure on the weight-bearing bones, stimulates bone remodeling. Exposure to sunlight is helpful. Sunlight forms vitamin D in the skin, vitamin D in turn increases calcium absorption.
Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain physical fitness and overall health. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent diseases such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health and helps prevent depression. Categories of physical exercise would be aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, strength training and agility training. More and more research is suggesting that exercise is extremely important for your overall health and well-being.
Since previous studies have shown that exercise can reduce falls and fall-related fractures in healthy individuals, researchers wanted to determine whether exercise could help individuals with low bone mineral density (osteopenia or osteoporosis). Databases were searched for relevant studies conducted between 1996 and 2008. Researchers found 28 studies that met the inclusion criteria. It was found that interventions with balance exercises reduced falls and fall-related fractures and improved balance in the majority of the studies. Researchers also found that most of the studies showed muscle strengthening exercises were effective in improving lower extremity strength and back extensor strength. Another finding was that bone strength could be improved by weight-bearing aerobic exercise with or without muscle strengthening exercise when the duration of the intervention was at least a year. After reviewing these findings, the researchers suggest that exercise can reduce fall and fall-related fractures in both healthy individuals and in those with osteopenia or osteoporosis.1
1 de Kam D, Smulders E, Weerdesteyn V, et al. Exercise interventions to reduce fall-related fractures and their risk factors in individuals with low bone density: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Osteoporos Int. May2009.