Exercise as it relates to Disease/The prescription of resistance training for preventing and treating osteoporosis

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Elderly exercise

The content of this fact sheet has been constructed to help inform of ways in which sufferers of osteoporosis can treat their condition better, as well as to inform on the risk factors and how people can reduce their chances of developing osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis[edit]

Osteoporosis is a disease affecting the bone matrix.[1] It causes the reduction of bone density and tissue. Osteoporosis is classed as a systemic skeletal disease where the bone reabsorption occurs faster than the deposit of new bone.[1][2] Changes in bone density causes bones to become fragile, increase the chances of fractures and brakes.[2] The first sign of the onset of osteoporosis is often a fracture from a light fall, therefore it is essential individuals know the risk factors and know how to prevent it.[2][3]

Prevalence and Risk Factors[edit]

Prevalence of osteoporosis:[3][edit]

  • roughly two million Australians have osteoporosis
  • One in two women have it and one in five men are at risk [2]
  • 70,000 osteoporotic fractures occur every year in Australia

Risk factors for osteoporosis include things such as:[3][4][edit]

  • Lifestyle factors – being sedentary, smoking and weight
  • Dietary intake - an inadequate intake of Calcium, Vitamin D and high intake of Caffeine, salt and alcohol
  • Hormones imbalances
  • Heredity – a family history of osteoporosis
  • Age

Exercise recommendations[edit]

Overhead press-CDC strength training for older adults

While diet plays an important role in the density of bones, Wolff’s Law states that ‘bone grows and remodels in response to the forces that are placed upon it’.[5] This means that the stresses and strains placed on the bones via resistance training would be beneficial.[6] Resistance training is the applied resistance to improve muscular strength predominantly, but studies have shown it to also improve bone and mineral density.[7]

Prevention techniques[edit]

Bone and mineral density has a direct correlation to osteoporosis.[4][8] Whilst age and heredity are risk factors are outside the individual’s control, resistance exercise and diet are proven to be effective ways to help prevent bone and mineral density loss and have the potential to increase bone strength,[8] thereby lowering the chances of osteoporosis.

The recommendations for preventing osteoporosis are:

  • A diet which incorporates a healthy level of calcium for the construction of bones and vitamin D to maximise the ability of calcium to be absorbed[3]
  • Incorporation of a resistance training program on a regular basis, with focus on strengthening problem areas such as the wrists, spine and hips[4][8]
  • It is important that individual works to improve bone density as much as possible before the age of 25-30 when peak bone mass is reached[1]

Treating osteoporosis[edit]

  • Proper care should be taken in pre-screening an individual with osteoporosis as they are prone to fractures [1]
  • Warm up and cool down should be carried out in every session [8]
  • Patients should start with light resistance and low impact for example body weight exercises [5]
  • A combination of 3 Sets per exercise, with 8 to 12 repetition of each should be used
  • Resistance training should be completed at least 2 days a week with a maximum of 5 days training [8]
  • Whilst patients may not be able to undertake heavy resistance training, benefits were seen in squeezing a tennis ball three times a day for six weeks [8]

Further reading[edit]


  1. a b c d Dairy Australia. (2009, October 10). GOOD HEALTH & NUTRITION - Osteoporosis. Retrieved September 28, 2014 , from http://www.dairy.edu.au/~/media/Discover-Dairy/Good%20Health%20Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Osteoporosis.PDF
  2. a b c d International Osteoporosis Foundation. (2014). What Is Osteoporosis?. Retrieved September 28, 2014 , from http://www.iofbonehealth.org/what-osteoporosis-0
  3. a b c d Dairy Australia. (2014). Bone Helth and Osteoporosis. Retrieved September 28, 2014 , from http://www.dairy.edu.au/discoverdairy/Teachers/Unbeatable-Bones-Module/Osteoporosis.aspx
  4. a b c Osteoporosis Australia Medical & Scientific Advisory Committee. (2014, June 27). About Osteoporosis. Retrieved September 28, 2014 , from http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/about-osteoporosis
  5. a b Sears, B. (2014, April 28). Wolff's Law. Retrieved September 28, 2014 , from http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/abbreviationsandterms/g/Wolffs-Law.htm
  6. Layne, J.E. and M.E. Nelson, The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Medicine & science in sports & exercise, 1999. 31(1): p. 25.
  7. Better Health Channel . (2014, September 9). Resistance training - health benefits. Retrieved September 28, 2014 , from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Resistance_training_the_health_benefits
  8. a b c d e f J A Todd, R J Robinson (2003) 'Osteoporosis and exercise'. Postgraduate Medical Journal 2003;79:320-323