Osteopenia is the insufficiency of bone mineral density, and can be a precursor to osteoporosis. Osteopenia is a bone mineral density (BMD) T-score between -1.0 and -2.5; osteoporosis is a BMD T-score is below -2.5. This is diagnosed with a dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, prescribed by your GP or specialist doctor.
The risk of developing osteopenia and osteoporosis increases with age, physical inactivity, post-menopause, exposure to particular chemicals and radiation, excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking.
Sarcopenia is insufficient lean muscle mass. It can also be diagnosed with a DEXA scan and assessment of walking speed, and/or muscular strength. Sarcopenia can be caused by physical inactivity, hormone levels and serious illnesses such as cancer. It naturally occurs approximately after 50 years of age, at 0.5-1% loss of muscle mass per year.
Because muscles pull on bones (via tendons), they are key to generating the force required to stimulate bone growth. Combined with osteopenia or osteoporosis, it makes for a high risk of falling and bone fractures.
Why see an Exercise Physiologist?
Exercise has been shown to:
- Increase bone density
- Increase muscle mass
- Improve balance and reduce the risk of falls
- Reduce the risk of hospitalisation, reduced independence and illnesses associated with a fall event
Exercise also positively affects other chronic health conditions, meaning those with more than osteopenia and sarcopenia may also experience improvements in their pain, metabolism, cardiovascular fitness, blood sugar control, mood, and quality of life. Exercise may be sufficiently effective to warrant a reduction in medication, and not restricted to osteopenia or sarcopenia-arresting medication either.
What type of exercise in involved?
Resistance and impact aerobic exercise will constitute a majority of your exercise program – anything that your muscles and encourages compression of the bones in a controlled way. During your appointment we will discuss what modes of exercise you enjoy, suit your current health status and can regularly participate in. You will complete some exercise with us, but we will work with you to also complete exercise at home. This means you can get real bang for your buck while independently taking control of your health.
Each person has an individually-tailored exercise program, so don’t worry about ‘keeping up’ – we will ensure your program is right for you, every step of the way.