Osteoporosis and Exercise: Part One

When you start training at Paragon, the first step in your journey with us is to sit down with a coach and discuss any health concerns you may have as we lay out an appropriate training plan to address your goals.  One of the more common concerns we hear during these meetings revolve around bone health and osteoporosis.  This is a topic that is often talked about but isn’t always understood. 

This will be a multi-part series of posts, beginning today with defining osteoporosis and identifying how it develops.  Following that, I’ll explain how it’s diagnosed and who’s at the greatest risk for developing bone health-related disorders.  Finally, I’ll examine what the evidence tells us about what we can do to help slow or prevent bone health disorders through thoughtful exercise, proper nutrition, and lifestyle changes.

Want to discuss your personal goals related to your bone health with a coach?  Click here to schedule a strategy session today.

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones and leads to an increased risk of falls and fractures.

In order to develop a plan to help delay or prevent osteoporosis, it’s helpful to understand what we’re dealing with.  You may not realize this, but your skeleton today is very different from the skeleton you had last month, and could be considered completely different from the skeleton you had 5 years ago. 

This is due to the fact that your bones are constantly going through what’s known as a remodeling process.  Certain cellular processes cause bone cells to break down and become reabsorbed, while other cellular processes cause new bones to form.  It can be helpful to view this process as a see-saw:

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When the scale tips heavily towards bone resorption (breakdown), our bones become more brittle and more likely to fracture.  When the scale tips heavily towards bone formation, our bones become stronger and more resilient.  

It’s important to note that both resorption and formation are occurring at all times, so this is not an either/or equation.  What we’re referring to is a shift in the rate of bone resorption vs. formation.  When we’re young, our skeletons become physically bigger and stronger as the rate of bone formation exceeds the rate of bone breakdown.  Once we reach our adult size, this equation becomes relatively balanced, where we see an approximately equal rate of bone breakdown and bone formation.  As we age and as different lifestyle factors begin to catch up to us, we start to see this balance shift to a point where the rate of bone breakdown greatly exceeds the rate of new bone formation, and as a result our bones lose their density over time.  When our bone density degrades far enough, we are at a significantly greater risk of bone fracture and impairment.

The good news is there are several steps you can take to improve your bone health, all of which will be outlined in future sections of this article.


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