How important is bone health in women?

Aging is a natural process that involves physical,psychological and social changes that no one can escape. In women, there is an accelerated loss of muscle mass and bone mass at an earlier age than men

Around the age of 50 years, every woman faces the effects of decline in a hormone called estrogen which so far has protected her from the risk of heart disease and bone loss etc. With the reduction of estrogen levels in circulation after menopause,women become vulnerable to various diseases like heart disease, bone loss, mood disturbances and weight gain.

Osteoporosis is a condition where there is a loss of bone mineral density which can result in bone pain and fractures even with minor trauma.Studies have shown that exercise help in maintaining bone mineral density.

As per the worldwide literature, the level of bone loss increases with age with a loss ranging from 1.1 to1.5% per year especially, with a loss of 0.6%, 1.1%, and 2.1% per year for the 60-69, 70-79, and> 80 age groups. More precisely, the loss is 1.5% per year for the back bone (spine) and 1.1% – 1.4% for the thigh bone (femoral neck) in the first 4-5 years. Especially, during post-menopausal period, bone loss occurs due to decline in estrogen hormone.

Physical inactivity not only places women’s health at risk during menopause, but also increases menopausal problems. Psychological stress, oxidative stress, abdominal obesity, deranged cholesterol levels and sedentary lifestyle are risk factors for the metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women.

Abundant evidence links habitual physical exercise to a better status on numerous health indicators and better quality of life and to the prevention and treatment of the ailments that typically occur from mid-life onward. Both aerobic and strengthening exercises can partially or totally counteract these changes by normalizing alterations of the lipid profile; by increasing anti-inflammatory responses, antioxidant enzyme expression, and insulin sensitivity; and by reducing adipose tissue.

Walking as a singular exercise therapy has no significant effects on Bone density at the lumbar spine or for the whole body in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Multiple studies have consistently emphasized that

(i) Strength training determines an increase in specific site bone density, in particular the thigh bone (at the neck of the femur) and the back- bone (lumbar spine), which is maintained in the short to medium term. At least 3 sessions a week for a year are recommended.

(ii) Progressive resistance training for the lower limbs is the most effective type of exercise intervention on bone mineral density (BMD) for the neck of thigh bone (femur).

We can infer that physical exercise is something more than a lifestyle: it is indeed a form of therapy itself. Let’s live our life “bone” healthy.

Dr. Sakthi Sankari
Dr. Sakthi Sankari

MBBBS, MD (Pathology)
Assistant Professor, Dept of Pathology,PSG IMS&R