OSTEOPOROSIS: WHY IT SHOULDN’T BE A NORMAL PART OF AGEING
It is a commonly-held misconception that, as we age, our bone health deteriorates and that, consequently, the development of osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions is inevitable. Whilst bone-density does decline to some extent throughout the ageing process, this merely predisposes an individual to osteoporosis and fractures-it doesn’t inescapably cause it. In fact, both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including genetics, nutrition and physical activity, likely play a greater part in the progression of these musculoskeletal conditions than age itself. Thankfully, the latter two are things we can easily control with some simple lifestyle changes!
Osteoporosis, defined as a loss of bone density and increased bone fragility, develops slowly over many years and is often not diagnosed until a bone is broken. These fragility fractures, as they are more widely known, occur most frequently in the spine, hip and wrist, but can also appear in the arm, pelvis and ribs. The impact of these fractures, from both a personal patient perspective and a healthcare system viewpoint, should not be understated; many result in severe pain and disability, often resulting in a reduced quality of life and overall life expectancy. Particularly when considering hip fractures, of which almost all require some degree of hospitalisation and over 50% render the patient permanently disabled.
It is estimated that over 3 million people currently have osteoarthritis in the UK, resulting in more than 500,000 fragility fractures occurring every year. Yet, many of these cases could be readily avoided through early identification and intervention. One of the best ways to do this is through increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time – something all of us can do!
Of course, preventing osteoporosis in the first place is the most desirable outcome, and maximising bone mass during the critical period of adolescence and young adulthood is thought to be one of the most effective prevention methods. Fortunately, a sedentary youth does not have to dictate your present or future bone health status. In fact, it’s never too late to start taking control over and managing your bone health; engaging in everyday activity is also great for minimising any age-related reductions in bone mass.
Physical activity is a crucial modifiable risk factors for osteoporosis, and should be actively encouraged to reduce pain and fracture risk, provide greater independence in later life and enable individuals to live a healthy, happy life without a reliance on medications. Despite all of these benefits, you may still be apprehensive about engaging in physical activity, especially if you have lived a relatively sedentary lifestyle up until now and aren’t quite sure where to begin – that’s where we come in!
At KiActiv®, we empower you to take a multi-dimensional approach to physical activity, helping you to find the value in your everyday movement, in a way that works best for you. For some, this might involve getting stuck into some gardening, going for a walk with friends to catch up or playing with the grandchildren at the park, whilst for others it may simply be wandering downstairs for a coffee break after being sat at a desk working for a period of time or pottering around the kitchen whilst the kettle boils. Shifting the narrative away from the idea that you must be getting sweaty in a gym class or be out for a 5k run makes physical activity much more accessible; the best form of activity is the one you enjoy, as this is the most sustainable kind too!
The KiActiv® Team