Non-Pharmacological Osteoporosis Treatments

Lifestyle Advice

Many aspects of a patient’s lifestyle have an impact on their likelihood to develop osteoporosis and on how severely they are affected. Adopting a few simple changes to daily routines can make a big difference.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is important throughout life regardless of age. The specific benefits relevant to patients who are at risk of developing osteoporosis are listed below:

  • minimise bone loss and risk of fracture
  • increased muscle strength
  • improved balance
  • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • improve cognitive function
  • improved posture
  • reduced risk of falling

Weight bearing exercise and resistance exercise are particularly important for patients who are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises are exercises where the weight of the body if being supported by the legs, these include walking, running, dancing and aerobics. Good footwear is vital if patients are considering taking up weight bearing exercises.

Resistance exercise involves contracting different muscle groups against resistance, the resistance can be in the form of the weight of the body, a weight in the gym or a specific machine designed to provide resistance. Resistance exercise is vital to maintaining muscle mass, which often decreases as patients get older, and is vital to maintaining safe independent mobility.

The National Osteoporosis Society have produced an information leaflet on the benefits of exercise in Osteoporosis. For more information visit: 
www.nos.org.uk/~/document.doc?id=770

Healthy Eating

The most important nutrients for the health of bones are calcium and vitamin D.  The average adult requires over 700mg of calcium per day, which should be easily available from a normal diet. Calcium rich foods include leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, tofu and dairy products.

Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption. It can be found in foods such as eggs, milk and oily fish, however vitamin D requires exposure to sunlight to become active. If patients are housebound, pregnant/breastfeeding or required to cover up when outside then consider supplementation.

The British Dietetic Society have produced guidance on healthy eating techniques for patients with osteoporosis. For more information visit: 
www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Society explain the links between diet and bone health. For more information visit: 
www.nos.org.uk/about-osteoporosis/your-bones

Falls Prevention

This is an essential part of the management of patients with osteoporosis and/or fracture. Referral to local Falls Clinics or Falls Prevention Services should be considered in appropriate patients.