Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mineral density that causes bones to become brittle and highly susceptible to fracture – particularly in the hip, spine and wrists. No matter what your age, bone needs physical activity, just like muscle, to retain strength and post-menopausal women can expect to lose around 1% of their bone mineral density each year. Currently 1 in 2 adults over 50 are inactive, that is they participate in fewer than 30 minutes of exercise per week.
Other modifiable lifestyle factors that can affect bone density are:
- excessive alcohol intake
- poor nutrition
- low calcium intake
There are no warning signs of osteoporosis. The disease is silent and painless until a fracture has occurred.
Exercise works for osteoporosis prevention because it places stress on bones, which results in increased bone mass. For post-menopausal woman the most effective exercise to strengthen bones is high impact exercise. A well balanced exercise programme including weight-bearing, impact exercises and strength training should be designed for an individual hoping to prevent or minimise the deterioration of osteoporosis.
Weight bearing high impact exercises could include:
- stair climbing
If you are not able to do high impact exercises then you could consider:
- elliptical training machines
- low impact aerobics
- stair-step machines
- walking (treadmill/outside)
Strength training should have a whole body approach as adaptations in bone mineral density are site specific. Strength training exercises include activities such as:
- Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes
- Lifting weights
- Using elastic exercise bands/dynabands
- Using weight machines
- Lifting your own body weight, such as push-ups.
If you would like to reduce your risk of osteoporosis, increase your bone density and slow or reverse the normal bone loss associated with ageing, a good place to start would be my blog on Resistance exercises using body weight.
If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment.
For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s This will open a new browser window.
 Department of Health. (2004). At least 5 a week: evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health.
 Wallace BA and Cumming RG., (2000) Systematic review of randomized trials of the effect of exercise on bone mass in pre- and postmenopausal women. Calcif Tissue Int 67: 10-18.