Training for life with osteoporosis

“An example of modifications that are available to golfers who are facing the prospect of giving up their favourite activity is to shorten their swing to minimize the rotational force on the spine,” writes Ernie Schramayr.

In last week’s Fitness Solutions column, I introduced readers to a specialized exercise program called Bone Fit; a multifaceted, holistic program that can make it safer to complete one’s activities of daily living and enjoy recreation while managing life with osteoporosis. In this week’s column, I’m sharing some of the details of a conversation that I had with the content lead and lead trainer of Bone Fit, Dr. Judi Laprade.

Laprade obtained her physical therapy degree from Queen’s University before obtaining her Masters and PhD in anatomy. Currently, she is teaching in the division of anatomy at the University of Toronto and over the past 14 years has been a project manager and consultant on programs about osteoporosis early screening and education. Her work has culminated in the development and co-ordination of the Bone Fit program and teaching workshops.

Dr. Judi Laprade believes in the ability of exercise to help people live more fulfilling, safer lives while managing osteoporosis.

One of the things that I immediately noticed when speaking with Laprade was how much she valued “training.” As a former athlete, she has a deep understanding of the importance of all kinds of exercise on physical and mental health and well-being. In fact, one of the things about the Bone Fit program that makes it different from simply learning a “workout” is the multipronged approach that it emphasizes. Aside from strength and endurance training, participants learn how to adapt everyday activities to make them safer while learning specific routines for back endurance and for improving balance.

Laprade related to me how often patients are told by health professionals to stop doing certain activities that they love and the effect that it can have on their quality of life. One of the goals of Bone Fit is to show participants how to train for those activities to prepare the body to be able to continue doing them, albeit in a modified fashion, while building strength and stability to enhance safety. Using golf as an example, she described how the dynamics of swinging a club while navigating uneven terrain demands that specific exercises be built into a workout routine that have often been excluded from plans for older adults who may or may not have osteoporosis. Traditionally, workout routines for these populations have focused mostly on “safe” exercise options like seated exercise programs, aqua fitness or recumbent cycling. While these are good exercise choices, they do little for someone who is trying to continue safely golfing with a chronic condition like osteoporosis.

An example of modifications that are available to golfers who are facing the prospect of giving up their favorite activity is to shorten their swing to minimize the rotational force on the spine, to play less frequently and/or to play 9 holes instead of 18 to decrease the repetitive movements that can lead to fractures down the road. These modifications along with doing appropriate strengthening have the potential to increase the length of one’s golf “career” as opposed to simply giving up the game. Taking a proactive approach to disease management allows clients/patients to modify other activities in similar ways.

With the Bone Fit program, Laprade wants participants to consider that they are “training for life” in two distinct ways — training for the duration of their lives and training to enhance the quality of their lives. She urges people to envision what they’d like their life to look like and then take the steps to make it a reality. For those with osteoporosis or a fracture history, it is highly recommended that they determine which of their favored activities might increase the risk of fracture and then seek guidance from a health care or fitness professional with expertise in guiding people safely through exercise programs like a Bone Fit trained specialist.

To find a Bone Fit trainer in your community who can help you to better manage your osteoporosis, go to and search the locator map found on the home page under “Find a Professional.”


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