Stronger bones for life

Research shows there's a simple answer for the elderly, which can not only halt decreasing bone density, but actually strengthen them.Mary Trip, 86, was approached to take part in an osteoporosis study almost four years ago.

The grandmother participated in an exercise program called 'Osteo-cise', where participants would exercise three times a week.

Deakin University's Dr Jenny Gianoudis conducted the 12 months' study for her PhD, and had 50 per cent of participants take part in the exercise program.

"Everyone in the study was given vitamin D and calcium supplements," Dr Gianoudis said

"I guess what was unique about our study was that it was a multi-component program."

The program incorporated resistance training, weight training, impact exercise, and highly-challenging balance exercise. It also targeted fall prevention.

Ms Trip was re-tested at the end of the 12 months' trial, and the results were impressive.

According to Dr Gianoudis there was a one per cent improvement of the bones density of the spine and hip.

"It might not sound like much, but actually as we age we tend to lose one per cent per year after the age of 60. So maintaining bone density can be a really important outcome," Dr Gianoudis said.

Ms Trip now exercises three times a week for an hour and 15 minutes each, and says she really enjoys the program.

"It makes you feel better and feel looser. Exercise comes first," Ms Trip said.

Trainer Lisa Weiss says even if you have osteoporosis, exercise is still effective at building bone density.

"For our osteo clients to build bone, the key is in the muscle, as it is the only tissue in the body that will build bone. The stronger you get the more bones you will build," Ms Weiss said.

The study found people over the age of 60 need to exercise at least three times a week to improve bone density, muscle power, strength and balance.

It's the best prevention for osteoporosis, a debilitating disease that affects more than a million Australians.

Contact:

Deakin University Australia - www.dro.deakin.edu.au

Osteoporosis - www.osteoporosis.org.au