Osteoporosis is one of the greatest health challenges facing the over 55 population. 2 out of every 3 women and 1 in every 3 men over sixty will suffer a fracture from the disease.
This equates to someone being hospitalised for a fracture every 8 minutes. In Australia, over 2 million people are affected and health costs per day exceed 20 million dollars, that’s 7 billion dollars a year. Something needs to be done to stop this from continuing.
EXERCISE AND BONE DENSITY
One critical approach, which is often overlooked, is resistance exercises. The bone cannot improve in strength if you do not strengthen the muscles around it. Also calcium will not be absorbed properly without strength exercises as well as other vitamins and minerals.
When we exercise, the weight that our bones carry as well as the pull of the muscles on the bones produces stress. Our bones adapt to this stress by laying down more bone to ensure that they can withstand future stress.
Research indicates that the most appropriate types of exercises to optimize bone strength gains include a combination of weight bearing, resistance based exercises & balance exercises performed 2-3 times a week with a rest day between resistance exercise sessions.
Resistance exercises either either pushing, pulling or lifting weights. This can be done very safely for people of any age with proper guidance. Weight bearing exercises are those that involve movement while carrying the full load of our body’s mass. The most common example of this is walking, however walking alone is not enough to improve bone strength.
To ensure that our bones continue to develop strength, the exercise program needs to be changed on a regular basis (2-3 months).
Safety is a very important consideration to make sure that you get maximum benefits without injury. With a low bone density, the strength of the bone may be compromised making it more likely for them to fracture with too much load or after a fall.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common problems for people over 55 and according to the latest research is the fastest growing medical condition worldwide.
Osteoarthritis can affect people in a vast number of ways, causing considerable pain, stiffness and reduced quality of life.
EXERCISE AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
Exercise is a vital component of osteoarthritis management no matter how severe the damage to the cartilage is. The health of our joints relies on movement of the fluid within the joints as this provides the cartilage with the nutrients it needs. This is achieved through exercise that moves the joints and hence causes the fluid to come into contact with the entire joint surface. Without this nutrition, the cartilage will degenerate at a faster rate causing both stiffness and pain.
CAUSES OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
The common cause of Osteoarthritis is improper movement in the joints, put simply, either too much movement or not enough movement.
The first, too much movement, is generally due to trauma or weakness in the supporting muscles or ligaments. This can be assisted by resistance exercises to strengthen these supporting muscles. Resistance exercises are exercises that involve a weight (such as a dumbbell, elastic band or body weight) being pushed or pulled. They are designed to target specific muscles or specific groups of muscles. As resistance exercises are more physically demanding, it is important to take a day of rest and recovery between sessions. The types of resistance exercises that are appropriate will depend on the areas affected, severity of the degeneration and other individual factors. It is best to seek the guidance of a qualified health professional prior to starting.
Alternatively, not having enough movement is caused by a lack of flexibility, which can be assisted by stretching. Flexibility exercises are designed to focus on maintaining and improving the range of movement within a joint. They are aimed at reducing joint stiffness and maintaining the health of the cartilage. Flexibility exercises can be performed without any equipment and are safe to perform daily.
As our joints are under the constant load of gravity and our body mass it is also important to consider the effects of excess body weight. This is especially important for osteoarthritis affecting the knees, hips and spine where research indicates that even a 1kg reduction in body weight can dramatically reduce symptom severity.
All of these exercises can be given specifically here at Active Seniors.
One of the major concerns as people age is their loss of balance. It not only increases the risk of falls, which are the largest cause of injury related deaths in people over 65, but it also greatly affects your confidence to maintain an active lifestyle.
HOW IS BALANCE CONTROLLED?
Balance is controlled by three main areas in your body, your eyes, ears and joints. The brain receives information from these 3 areas to orient and position itself properly. Of these 3 areas the joints are the easiest to target to improve balance.
Balance is best helped by working on improving mobility and strength of the joints, in particular the hips, spine and feet. Exercises should be done in a safe environment. It is advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified health professional to ensure that any risks are minimised. We specialise in finding the right balance exercises for your level and supervising you while you do them.
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common, not only in adult populations but also in younger adolsecents and children. Type 2 diabetes is vastly different from type 1 diabetes.
TYPE 1 DIABETES
In type 1 diabetes there is an abscence or inadequate amount of insulin produced by the pancreas resulting in poor control of blood sugar levels. The treatment for type 1 injections involves administering insulin to the body.
WHAT CAUSES TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Type 2 diabetes is linked with lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, obesity & of course stress. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas produces insulin, however the insulin becomes less sensitive and hence less effective. This causes a build up of sugar molecules in the blood vessels which:
- causes damage to the lining of the blood vessels; and
- can block the blood supply of smaller vessels such as those in the eyes and those that supply the nerves.
- is converted to fat for storage
- can cause inflammation
There is a strong link between type 2 diabetes and conditions such as stroke and cardiovascular conditions.
MANAGING TYPE 2 DIABETES WITH EXERCISE
Exercise has an important role in the management of type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise can:
- Help to reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity
- Reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular related diseases & stroke
- Assist in weight management
- Assist with stress management
Stress is a natural primitive reaction from our body to a threat. Once the threat is removed our body returns to its normal state. However if the threat remains over a long period of time our body will begin to adapt and change accordingly.
Primitive threats came in the shape of animals; bears, tigers and anything else who considered us to be a dinner option. Modern stresses are associated with relationships, finance, work & emotions. Our body will react to these modern stressors in the same way it reacts to the tiger… the “fight or flight“ response. The “fight or flight“ reaction is named accordingly as the body prepares us to either stay and battle the situation or prepares us to run away and escape.
Chronic stress can result in:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Greater storage of fat
- Poor concentration and memory
- Digestive disturbances
- Physical and mental fatigue
Sound familiar? Over 90% of chronic diseases are either the result of chronic stress or affected by it.
This includes heart problems, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis & even some mental health conditions. The good news is that one of the best ways to manage chronic stress and its burden on the body is through regular exercise.
Exercise and stress
Regular exercise is one of the main strategies that has been proven to counter the negative effects of stress.
- Helps to control blood pressure, thereby reducing the stress on the heart
- Helps to control blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity
- Assists with the management of body weight
- Has an important role in the health of bones, joints & muscles
- Maintains the function of the digestive system
- Improves mood & quality of sleep.