Osteoporosis is a bone condition that results in weak and porous bones, typically affecting post-menopausal women. Risk factors for osteoporosis include gender, age, family history, bone structure, and hormonal risk factors. Lifestyle factors also play a role in the risk of developing osteoporosis; a highly sedentary lifestyle, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and low calcium diet are all risk factors for osteoporosis. Additionally, certain medications can increase your risk of osteoporosis (e.g., corticosteroids). 

People who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis (e.g., post-menopausal women) should regularly monitor their bone health, that way preventive measures can be applied, and osteoporosis can be detected before a bone fracture occurs. 

What is a bone mineral density test and why you might need one?

A bone mineral density test determines the amount of mineral present in the bone by using a densitometer. The densitometer measures the amount of mineral per square centimeter of bone, which then can be used to calculate a person’s risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. 

Preventing osteoporosis

Reducing your risk factors by quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy levels of calcium and vitamin D (which helps your body absorb calcium), can all be helpful. 

The role of exercise

A recent clinical trial – the LIFTMOR (Lifting Intervention for Training Muscle and Osteoporosis Rehabilitation) trial was a single-blind, randomized, controlled, exercise intervention trial that assessed the benefits of high intensity and weight-bearing training on post-menopausal women with low bone mass.

Participants – aged 58 years or older with low bone mass – were allocated to one of two intervention groups for a total of eight months. The first group was the High intensity, progressive resistance and impact weight-bearing training (HiRIT) group. The exercises in this group consisted of resistance exercises (such as deadlift, overhead press, back squat), which were performed at high intensity, in addition to impact loading exercises (such as chin-ups with drop landings). These high-intensity exercises were supervised by an instructor (an exercise scientist and physiologist). The second group took part in at home exercise, twice per week, at a low intensity, including exercises such as walking, lunges, calf raises, and stretching. 

The study reported improvements in bone mineral density in the group of women who took part in the HiRIT training. This form of training was effective and did not result in any significant adverse events in healthy postmenopausal women who had low bone mass. According to the researchers the results of the study suggest that, contrary to what was previously held true, high intensity exercise is safe for healthy women with low bone mass. 

References:

Accurate Imaging Diagnostics – Bone Mineral Density Test fact sheet. Available at: https://accurateimagingdiagnostics.com/bmd/

Watson SLWeeks BKWeis LJHarding ATHoran SABeck BR. (2018). High-Intensity Resistance and Impact Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Physical Function in Postmenopausal Women With Osteopenia and Osteoporosis: The LIFTMOR Randomized Controlled Trial. J Bone Miner Res. Feb;33(2):211-220. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3284. Epub 2017 Oct 4.

Related Resources:

Accurate Imaging Diagnostics performs Bone Mineral Density Testing services in Ontario. For more information, visit their website at: https://accurateimagingdiagnostics.com/bmd/

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