Lifestyle Considerations for Osteoporosis 

Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur as we age and in the hip, wrist or spine.

In order to understand how we can support our bodies through this condition or even reduce the risk of it in the first place, we need to look at diet and exercise (including pilates).  We also need to know a little more about bone health.  

Let’s get cracking.

The Skeleton 

The skeleton consists of strong, mineralised bone which form a sophisticated system to facilitate movement.  Bone is a light, yet strong connective tissue consisting of around 30% collagen and other proteins with around 70% minerals.  These minerals include calcium and phosphorus, but magnesium, sodium and potassium are also present.

Bone starts as a cartilage model which gets slowly replaced.  Osteoblasts are the cells that form new bone; think of it as a blast that spreads, and osteoblasts spread to form new bone.  Osteoblasts secrete osteoids which are simply unmineralized bone tissue.  Soon after the osteoid is laid down, inorganic salts (calcium and phosphorus) are deposited which forms the hardened material that we know as bone.

Throughout a lifetime, bones are constantly remodelled.  This can be relating to stress or damage or simply the regulation of calcium in the body.  

Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone.

There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that include:

  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra,
  • Loss of height over time,
  • A stooped posture,
  • A bone that breaks much more easily than expected.

Causes of Osteoporosis 

Hormones:

Oestrogen is a hormone in women that protects bones.  It essentially inhibits bone resorption (the breakdown of bones).  Oestrogen deficiency, in the case of menopause, results in increased osteoclast formation and therefore increased bone breakdown.  

For this reason, nutritional support is even more important if you are preparing for, or experiencing the menopause.  Osteoporosis is thought to affect one in three postmenopausal women.  In light of this, it is recommended to include adequate dietary intakes of calcium, vitamin D and protein, undertake regular weight-bearing exercise, reduce alcohol intake and stop smoking (if you do).

Too much thyroid hormone can also cause bone loss. This can occur if your thyroid is overactive or if you take too much thyroid hormone medication to treat an under-active thyroid.

Osteoporosis has also been associated with overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands.

In light of this, it’s worth exploring your hormonal health with your GP. 

Diet 

Low Calcium Intake

A lifelong lack of calcium is thought to play a role in the development of osteoporosis. Low calcium intake contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.

Eating Disorders

Severely restricting food intake means your bones don’t get the nutrients they need to stay strong.   This occurs in both men and women.  

Gastrointestinal Surgery

Surgery to reduce the size of your stomach or to remove part of the intestine limits the amount of surface area available to absorb nutrients, including calcium which plays a role in bone strength and density.

Medications 

Long-term use of oral or injected corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone and cortisone has also been seen to interfere with the bone-rebuilding process.

Existing Health Conditions 

There is an increased risk of osteoporosis for those who are also diagnosed with:

  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Lifestyle

Alcohol consumption along with tobacco use has been linked to a higher risk of osteoporosis.  In addition, being sedentary encourages bone loss. 

Top Considerations For Osteoporosis:

Calcium 

Good sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy products,
  • Dark green leafy vegetables,
  • Calcium-fortified cereals, 

Vitamin D

Whilst we know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, it’s actually a hormone which plays a key role in calcium absorption.

Sources of Vitamin D include:

  • Meat, 
  • Eggs, 
  • Mushrooms, 
  • Oily fish

You can also carry out an at home Vitamin D test from the NHS, or ask your GP to check your level.  You may need to supplement if you aren’t getting enough through sunshine and diet alone. 

Exercise 

One literature review concluded that exercise training for postmenopausal women is an effective approach to improve multiple fracture risk factors, but the benefits are dependent on the type and dose prescribed.  What this means is there isn’t a one size fits all when using exercise to improve bone health as we age.  

What we do know is the ideal exercise routine includes some, if not all of the following:

  • short bouts of novel or diverse weight-bearing activities, 
  • progressive resistance exercises, 
  • functionally challenging balance and mobility activities.

Whilst osteoporosis can be a complex condition to manage, InstructorLive wants to support you on your journey.

We have carefully created our Pilates for Osteoporosis programme. 

Pilates For Osteoporosis

Sam targets osteoporosis through exercises that will help maintain good posture, bone density and joint stability. You’ll work on releasing tension and pain in the muscles in order to restore the body’s alignment. You’ll also work on functional movement and pelvis control to access the centre and promote a strong skeleton.

Sam is an exceptional trainer and moves at a comfortable pace making her programmes suitable for ALL levels of fitness and ability.

Pilates is a wonderful, low-impact form of exercise which benefits include:

  • Improved flexibility and mobility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved control of the limbs
  • Improved balance and balance of muscular strength equally on both sides of your body

Each class lasts approximately 30 minutes, and Sam recommends doing each class at least 3-4 times per week before moving on to the next one to maximise your results.

Pilates Conditions – Osteoporosis (£4.99 p/m)