Largely thought of as a female disease, osteoporosis currently affects 2 million men in the United States. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), an estimated 12 million more are at risk. Despite the large number affected, the NOF reports that osteoporosis in males is still “underdiagnosed and underreported” (www.nof.org/men/index.htm; retrieved May 21, 2008).
Our bodies gain bone mass throughout childhood and adolescence until peak bone mass is achieved in the third decade. Bone mass then remains relatively constant until around the age of 35-40 years, and then declines in both sexes. At menopause and for several years after, women experience an acceleration of bone loss. Subsequently, the loss of bone mass in women parallels that in men.
Fractures occur as a culmination of a series of inter-related events. Several factors are important in determining how much bone our skeleton gains before reaching our peak bone mass. The genes one inherits play a large part. In addition, nutritional factors during growth, such as the level of calcium intake, hormones, and exercise are important.
As we grow older, the usual pattern of bone loss may be enhanced by early menopause, drugs such as corticosteroids, illnesses such as liver disease, joint disease or thyroid disease, alcohol consumption, prolonged immobilization and insufficient sex hormones in males, resulting in lower bone masses.
The background of low bone mass and poor bone architecture (or quality), coupled with the propensity to fall, puts an individual at high risk of developing a fracture.
The NOF describes risk factors as smoking, excessive alcohol use, low calcium intake and inadequate physical exercise. When you are diagnosed with osteoporosis but cleared for exercise by a physician, consider the following suggestions:
- Include resistance training for all major muscle groups.
- Engage in other weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, stair climbing and team sports like basketball.
- Focus programs on posture, balance, gait, coordination, and hip and trunk stabilization.
- Avoid twisting motions and impact activities, depending upon the severity of the condition.
It is important to inform your trainer about your medical condition so that your trainer will be able to deliver a training program that is designed for your needs and requirements.
Healthy lifestyle measures are beneficial for your general health and are also useful for the prevention of osteoporosis. They should therefore be encouraged.