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Osteoporosis And Arthritis

What is OP?
Osteoporosis is a condition of low bone mineral density affecting 1.2 million Australians. It is more common in women than men, but 23% of people with osteoporosis are men (http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/men)

How does it develop?
In women, OP develops due to the rapid decline in oestrogen levels after menopause. As a result, the bones lose calcium and other minerals, leading to reduced bone density. In men, it is due to the decline in testosterone. In men however, the decline in testosterone levels is much more gradual, and as a result does not normally reach the point where loss of bone mass becomes a significant issue. However, when testosterone levels are artificially lowered, such as with some treatment for prostate cancer, this places these men at higher risk for OP.

Other risk factors include:
Family history, smoking, excess alcohol intake, low levels of calcium, low exposure to sunlight (which helps calcium absorption), some chronic diseases or an overactive thyroid.

How does exercise help?
Weight bearing exercise is immensely beneficial in the prevention of OP, as the actions of the muscles working puts stress on the bones, helping to maintain bone mass. Furthermore, this weight bearing exercise can actually slow the decline of bone mass, which highlights the importance of exercise as a preventative measure.

What is OA?
OA is a localized, chronic joint disease caused by degeneration, loss of cartilage and bone deformity, leading to joint stiffness, swelling, pain, weakness and muscle loss, which in turn lead to increased falls risk, lower physical activity levels, weight gain and reduced quality of life.

How does exercise help?
A combination of strength and aerobic exercise may be beneficial for persons with arthritis. This includes strengthening the muscles around the joint, such as the gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings for hip and knee OA, or the back, chest and shoulder muscles for shoulder OA. Weight bearing aerobic exercise, such as walking has been shown to be beneficial.

Many people with OA are reserved about starting exercise for fear of increasing pain levels. This is where an Accredited Exercise Physiologist is important, as the AEP will develop an exercise program with appropriate exercises and intensity levels for the individual, rather than a generic exercise program.

Aquatic exercise such as hydrotherapy or aqua aerobics has not been definitively demonstrated to benefit OA patients, but the non-weight bearing nature of the exercise may help unload painful joints and provide some relief, while still enable to person to exercise.

For more information on Osteoporosis and Arthritis click here or contact NJF direct.

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