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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can older people improve bone health?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    As people grow older their bones tend to become weaker and more likely to fracture, but this is neither inevitable nor irreversible. With a combination of weight bearing exercise and sensible diet a person can not only maintain a reasonable bone density well into their later years but also reverse some loss if it has occurred.

    When dealing with older people one must take into consideration the possibility of Osteopenia or Osteoporosis but at the same time remember that not all older folk have a low bone density or are fracture prone.

    The factors that affect adaptation of bone are:

    • How much pressure is put on the bone during weight bearing exercise.
    • Direction of application of force (Wolff’s Law).
    • Speed at which the force is applied (Mosley 2000)

    During exercise, the muscles pull on its attachment to bone and can result in a strengthening of the bone at that point. On the other hand when pressure is applied through the line of the bone, as in some weight exercises the adaptation is even greater. This is because the bone will bend slightly and become denser to adapt to the strain. If the force is applied as in jumping (plyometric exercise) the speed of application is greater the adaptation can be greater.

    Pressure through the line of the bone will cause the bone to flex and increase in density where the bone bends. This could be dropping off a platform. This could be dangerous if the person suffers from Osteoporosis.

    Wall Drop: Stand about 1/2 metre from a wall, hands held out and drop against the wall. To increase the pressure stand a bit further.

    Depth Jump: Start by hopping in place. Progress by standing on a low platform and jump down. Progress by increasing the height of the platform.

    Before embarking on this type of Plyometric exercise the client should work on muscular strength in the area concerned and applying pressure through the line of the bone depending on the condition of the client. For a person who cannot perform a push up they can try it on a bench or even a wall. Of course performing the bench press with a light barbell or dumbells could be just as good.

  • 1


    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    As Eric mentioned above, exercise is extremely important for older people to help to maintain strong bones and to prevent against osteoporosis. From a dietary point of view, older Australians need to make sure they are getting around 1300mg of calcium per day from their food. A dietary supplement may help to boost calcium levels as a supplement to a persons diet.

    Studies have shown that older Australians need to get more vitamin D in their day. The best source is free and it's sunlight! Make sure to get out for around 15-20 minutes everyday and expose yourself to sunlight. Why not take a walk, or exercise outside of the gym, join an outdoor exercise group or form a walking group in your community.

    Vitamin D is available in supplement form, but when taking it, make sure you take it with a source of fat (around 10g) as it will help in its absorption. For more practical advice on dietary strategies to get more calcium and vitamin D in your day, talk to your local Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). Log onto to find one near you!

  • 2


    Eric Rosario

    Exercise Physiologist

    Master of Applied Science by Research into the Effects of Strength Training on Postmenopausal women. I have been involved in strength training for 67 years … View Profile

    I agree with Chris but especially the need for fat to absorb vitamin D. Too many folk look on fat as evil. They do not realise that in the right proportions it serves a need.

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