Osteoporosis & Exercise: Top 3 Take-Aways from our Workshop in May

Osteoporosis and Exercise: Top 3 Things to Remember from our Workshop

In case you missed our workshop in May with Dr. Lance Rudolph, Dr. Jenny Ploss, and Bill Basso, we've put together a recap of the top 3 takeaways from our workshop.

What does the research say about exercise and osteoporosis?  Here are the three most important updates from our speakers in May at our osteoporosis workshop.

Takeaway number 1: Osteoporosis is ubiquitous, and it's not just a female affliction.

Over half of  people over age 50 in the United States have either low bone mass (osteopenia) or osteoporosis.  That's a staggering figure, and at first I thought that surely we were over-exaggerating the import of this.  However, when you look at the research, we find higher fracture risk even in those with low bone density which isn't quite at the level of a diagnosis of osteoporosis.  So we should be working on preventing fractures (see number 2) in a much larger population than just those with diagnosed osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is defined by the World Health Organization as a bone density at least 2.5 standard deviations below the average for a sex-matched 20-30 year old person.  If your t-score from your DEXA scan was -2.5 (right on the edge of osteoporosis), you have somewhere between 58% and 82% of the bone density that a 20-30 year old has (from the NIH 2005-2008), depending on the body part (spine, top of the femur, or neck of the femur) and your sex.

Want a quick overview of osteoporosis? Here's an informative video from the International Osteoporosis Foundation:

Who gets osteoporosis?

615 Age and Bone Mass

We often think of osteoporosis as a female disease, but actually we females just lose our bone mass a little quicker for a few years after menopause.  On average, we lose 1% of our bone mass every year after we acheive our "peak bone mass" around age 25, whether we are male or female.  This continues for life, although we do have a few things we can do to preserve bone mass (see the second blog in the series about fracture and fall prevention).  For females, we have an accelerated bone loss period for the 5-8 years after menopause, probably due to hormonal changes, and this is one of the reasons why females are diagnosed with osteoporosis much earlier in life (after age 50), compared to men (after age 70).

However, because men are diagnosed later, they tend to have more comorbidities and may not be as active at the time they realize they have lower bone density (thus, more easily fractured bones).  So women get a head start on changing lifestyle and taking medication to preserve bone health and reduce fall risk.  Thus, even though 75% of hip fractures occur in women, men tend to have a harder time recovering (possibly because these fractures occur later in life).

So now we know a LOT of people get osteoporosis or have weaker bones, especially the older we get.  Now what?  See our next blog in this series on fall and fracture prevention.


1. "Lumbar spine and proximal femur bone mineral density, bone mineral ...." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24261130. Accessed 29 May. 2018.
2. Image from: 
Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Website. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013. Accessed 29 May 2018.