Skeletal Fitness: Does Low Bone Mass Mean Osteoporosis?
Mirabai Holland, MFA, CHC, EP-C
Manatee YourChoice Health Coach
Nearly 30 years ago when I was in graduate school, I wrote an exercise physiology paper on exercise and osteoporosis.
At that time there wasn’t much research available. But even then, the studies I found on tennis players, astronauts, and bed rest pointed in the direction that weight-bearing exercise could help maintain the bone density you have and even promote bone growth. I was intrigued. I’ve followed the research over the years and even created an osteoporosis exercise program.
In working with my clients, I often hear the question, “What’s the difference between osteoporosis and low bone mass? (osteopenia) And what can I do about it?"
Well to answer these questions, I have to start at the beginning.
Osteoporosis is a disease, which, over time, causes bones to become thinner, more porous and less able to support the body. Bones can become so thin that they break during normal, every-day activity. Osteoporosis is a major health threat. Of the 54 Million at risk, nearly 80% are women.
Postmenopausal women are particularly at risk because they stop producing estrogen, a major protector of bone mass.
As we age some bone loss is inevitable. Women age 65 or men age 70 should get a bone mineral density test*. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or other risk factors, you may need a BMD much earlier.
*NOTE: Manatee YourChoice Health Plan requires pre-authorization for this test.
The test is completely painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes. It compares your bone mineral density to that of an average healthy young person. Your results are called your T score. The difference between your score and the average young person’s T-score is called a standard deviation. (SD)
Here is how to interpret your T score:
- Between +1 and –1: normal bone density.
- Between -1 and -2.5: low bone density (osteopenia).
- T-score of -2.5 or lower: osteoporosis.
Until recently it was thought that if you had low bone mass (osteopenia) you were well on your way to getting osteoporosis. But it’s now known even at this stage bone loss can be slowed down, stopped and even reversed. You and your doctor will have a number of options depending upon your particular condition.
Many MDs like to start with a calcium and vitamin D rich diet coupled with weight bearing exercise. For many of us, that’s all we need. Others will require medication and there are many bone-building medications available.
A Skeletal Fitness Osteoporosis Prevention Workout can go a long way towards protecting bone mass and preventing falls that can cause a fracture. The good news is bones are living tissue. They can become denser with weight bearing and resistance exercise.
When working out your bones it’s important to load the areas most at risk for fracture: the spine, the hip, and the wrist.
Remember, it’s never too early or too late to start working out your bones!
To participate in A Skeletal Fitness Workout please check out these upcoming County programs coming to your work sites in May. Click here to view the flyer.
To help you on your way Manatee Your Choice offers 5 Free Health Coaching Sessions to members. Click Here For More Information.
For more health and fitness information and at home exercise programs please visitwww.mirabaiholland.com