Standing Strong: Gloria's Story

Senior doing exercises

At 65, Gloria thought she was in the best health of her life. Recently retired, she had started walking regularly, had lost 5 kilos and was feeling better than ever!

Until One Day...

Seniors tying up shoelaces

…she tripped over her granddaughter’s bicycle and fell and broke her wrist. Her doctor recommended a bone density test which revealed Gloria had osteoporosis in her hips and spine. Those events precipitated a cascade of events that left her depressed and anxious, wondering if life would ever be the same.

The diagnosis brought back memories of her mother’s dowager’s hump and the succession of fractures in her later years. Gloria’s doctor gave her a prescription for medications that would improve her bone mass and told her she would probably have to take them for the rest of her life if she wanted to avoid her mother’s fate.

Not an Unusual Situation

However, it does not have to be this way. Recently, a research study called the LIFTMOR trial showed that high-intensity resistance and impact training could improve bone mineral density and physical function in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (low bone mass) and osteoporosis (very low bone mass).

In other words, this means a certain type of exercise training, coupled with appropriate nutrition, may be able to manage and even reverse the problem.

This Does Not Mean Becoming a Gym Junkie

Senior on an exercise bike

In fact, as Gloria points out, with the properly supervised program that she attends at The Bone Clinic, “How you look, and your physical capacity is not relevant. You exercise within your ability but with a common goal – to prevent osteoporotic fracture.”

“Instead of being left to your own devices with a lot of intimidating gym equipment, you are surrounded by allied health experts, who know your health limitations, help you overcome your fears, supervise your every movement, and answer your questions with evidence-based advice.”

An Extremely Important Point

Although the research suggests this high-intensity exercise can help overcome osteoporosis; it can be risky if carried out unsupervised with incorrect technique. Furthermore, the training must take your other health conditions into account.

Many people don’t want to take bone medications, either because they don’t find them to be effective, or because they suffer side effects. Until recently, lifestyle alternatives such as diet and exercise, have not been very effective. But the LIFTMOR trial showed us that, when it comes to bone, not all exercise is equal. In fact, certain targeted exercise can indeed improve bone and reduce falls very effectively. It just has to be done carefully.

A final word from Gloria. “The Bone Clinic has given me back the things I love – my 3 Gs: Gardening, Grandchildren and Golf!”

Professor Belinda Beck, Co-Director of The Bone Clinic BHMS(Ed), MS, PhD, FACSM

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