Norwich scientists to test if leading a less sedentary lifestyle can help beat osteoporosis

An elderly woman sitting on her bed. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

An elderly woman sitting on her bed. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A team of Norwich scientists are investigating whether leading a less sedentary lifestyle can have a positive impact on bone density and help beat osteoporosis.

A condition where bones lose their strength, it is estimated that every year in the UK, more than 500,000 broken bones- roughly one every minute - are caused by osteoporosis.

The link between exercise and improving bone density has long been known about and previous research has shown that prolonged sedentary behaviour could have an adverse effect on the hip bone mineral density of women, who are more suspectable to the condition.

Now, working with researchers from a number of other UK universities, scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) will investigate whether breaking up long periods of sitting can improve bone density.

Using use data and blood samples which have been collected, but not analysed, in previous sedentary behaviour studies, researchers will look at biomarkers which show the biochemical changes sedentary behaviour has on how quickly bone is broken down or formed.

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They will also investigate whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to accelerated bone loss.

If the study finds sedentary behaviour has a significant negative effect bone metabolism, promoting regular breaks from sitting could be a simple, preventative intervention for osteoporosis in later life.

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Professor Bill Fraser, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: 'We know that a sedentary lifestyle is not good for us, but we don't yet know exactly how it causes bone loss and subsequent osteoporosis.

'This project will look at whether extended periods of sitting in a controlled laboratory setting effects the bone metabolism of older adults.

'It will also look at the effects of breaking periods of sitting with standing, and whether this could be better for us.'

Jonathan Tang, also from Norwich Medical School, said: 'We are very excited at the prospect of this study. We will use state of the art technology here at UEA to perform biomarker analysis on blood samples to detect early changes in the bone building cycle - before a bone density scan can indicate bone thinning.'

The research is being funded by the Royal Osteoporosis Society, previously the National Osteoporosis Society.

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