You cannot see or feel your bones losing strength and you don’t get any signs or symptoms unless bones break. It’s called the “silent disease” because you may not know that you have osteoporosis until a strain, bump, or fall causes a bone to break.

 Yoga blog 7 March 2015

Osteoporosis could be considered the Cinderella of the health service. Statistics show one in two women and one in five men in the UK over 50 will fracture a bone as a result. There are over half a million new fragility fractures each year and currently 3.2 million number of people aged 50+ with osteoporosis.

Yet how many of us are aware of osteoporosis and whether or not we may be at risk? I’ve been reading about it online and wondering why seemingly so little attention is paid to it compared to other diseases, despite the fact there’s a lot we can do to mitigate against it.

As well as sunshine and good diet (we need vitamin D and calcium for bones to replenish themselves), weight bearing exercise is essential. If your bones are already fragile then non-impact activities such as yoga and pilates are safer than jogging or playing tennis. Prevention starts in childhood say experts, but it’s never too late to start.

The many good yoga poses to practise include bridge, seated twists, locust, tree, half moon, and standing poses such as triangle, and warriors 2 and 3. For example seated twists put pressure – but not too much pressure - on the spine. The bones respond by building more bones.

Last week’s class included bridge, tree and twists, and stronger weight bearing exercises such as plank and downward dog. Over the next few weeks I’ll be including a range of standing poses into our practice, that not only improve strength and ability to balance, but use gravity and the body weight to safely put pressure on our precious bones.

If you think you have risk factors for osteoporosis and fractures you should of course discuss this further with your GP who can ensure you get the assessment and any drug treatments you may need.  There are many informative websites including the National Osteoporosis Society where you can find out more.