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Building Strong Foundations: The Crucial Role of Exercise in Preventing Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and who it affects:

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 break. Mortality rates at one year for osteoporotic hip fractures in Singapore is between 20 to 27%. For those who survive, 20% will be semi- or fully dependent for their activities of daily living, while 39 percent will require some form of assistance.[1]Osteoporosis-related breaks most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. [2]  Osteoporosis is most common in Asian women and non-Hispanic white women.   [3] And once you break a hip, 60% of people who do so never regain full mobility and have to rely on wheelchairs and walkers, severely decreasing their quality of life. 

A combination of age-related changes, inactivity, and inadequate nutrition conspire to gradually steal bone mass, at the rate of 1% per year after age 40.[4]  Osteoporosis should be a concern for all of us. It is now responsible for more than two million fractures each year, and experts expect that number will rise. How do we prevent it? 

Preventing Osteoporosis

The Osteoporosis Foundation has studies that show that exercise is key to preventing bone loss. Their studies have shown that people with a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to have a hip fracture than those who are more active. For example, women who sit for more than nine hours a day are 50% more likely to have a hip fracture than those who sit for less than six hours a day [5]. It has also been suggested that exercising prior to age 40 is associated with a lower risk of falling in seniors [6].

The number of women who will experience a fracture annually exceeds the combined number of women who will experience incident breast cancer, myocardial infarction, or stroke across all ethnic groups. 

Let’s prevent risk falls by training those muscles that keep us upright!  Activities that put stress on bones can nudge bone-forming cells into action. That stress comes from the tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength training (as well as weight-bearing aerobic exercises like walking or running). The result is stronger, denser bones. Resistance and weighted workouts — particularly those that include moves emphasizing power and balance — enhance strength and stability. They boost confidence, encourage you to stay active, and reduce fractures another way — by cutting down on falls.

If you already have osteoporosis, Pilates and Reformer is a great option for you as we incorporate gentle weight bearing exercises to help bring balance to the body. The resistance of springs and engaging your core through balance helps build strength in the arms and legs, as well as around the joints of the hip, leg, and foot, and promotes balance and stability. The more balance and stability you have , the less likely you are to fall and the more confidence you will have navigating uncertain terrain - which is another reason why classes in Aerial Pilates are helpful. 

In addition to regular exercise, a healthy diet full of calcium in foods like low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and leafy greens, as well as Vitamin D in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, can help keep osteoporosis at bay.  

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