Many people each year receive a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia. But what does such a diagnosis actually mean for the lifestyle of an individual? Osteoporosis is a loss of bone density and is typically measured by a DEXA “T” score. This score tells you how close your bone density is compared to the average 25 year old of the same sex. As I’ve discussed previously on this blog, Having osteoporosis in and of itself is not a problem, it’s the increased risk of bone fracture secondary to the osteoporosis that presents the real issue. Fracture risk is a multifaceted construct that is influenced by lots of different factors outside of your specific current bone density or T score. Other health history factors that have been found to increase risk of osteoporosis related fractures include smoking (of course!), excessive alcohol use, history of steroid use for any reason or a family history of fractures.
The World Health Organisation has created a risk assessment tool called the FRAX (Fracture Risk Asssessment) that gives a percentage risk that a given person will incur a major osteoporotic fracture in the next 10 years. The FRAX can be found here (http://www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX/tool.aspx). It takes 2 minutes to complete and returns your risk assessment immediately! Try it out and consider too the risk factors that the FRAX creators consider in their assessment that.
If you are concerned about your risk of fractures remember too that strength, stability and coordination training is crucial to prevention. Exercises that challenge (safely!) you ability to maintain balance and to move with confidence through a world filled with obstacles can greatly reduce potential for falls and ultimately breaks. Plus they are just fun to work on! Dancing, agility ladders, balance boards and the like represent some of the most fun to be found in the world of exercise training and all are helpful in falls prevention (safety considered).
If you have questions about osteoporosis, falls prevention or exercise training for coordination or balance please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email!