DEXA is the gold standard diagnostic examination for bone density. Bone density scans generally are performed on those over 70 years of age or those with risk factors or an illness which may affect bone health. Bone densitometry is used to diagnose if your bone mineral density (BMD) is normal, low (osteopenia) or if you have osteoporosis. Following your first scan, BMD scans are conducted every 2-5 years.
Your BMD can be affected by a lack of physical activity (not partaking in load bearing exercise), nutrition (inadequate calcium and vitamin D) and hormonal influences (decline in oestrogen levels in women and testosterone levels in men). An increase in BMD throughout your 20-30’s can have a positive impact on delaying the onset of osteoporosis.
DEXA also helps us stay accountable for our soft tissue mass (body composition). For example, muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia – is an age-related condition that can impact on normal daily activities and lead to loss of functional independence. Sarcopenia is determined by 3 factors – a decrease in grip strength, a decrease in gait speed and a decrease in muscle mass. These factors may be the result of a decreased level of physical activity, a decline in oestrogen and testosterone concentrations, nutritional deficiencies (particularly lack of protein) and insulin resistance. As such, improving muscle mass and strength in our younger years (women aiming for at least 40kgs and men aiming for at least 60kgs of lean mass) is an important consideration to combat the natural muscle loss with age.
Tracking changes in bone density and body composition is one of the best ways to stay in tune with your short term or long-term goals. From athletes to the elderly knowing your bone density, fat mass and lean mass from year to year will help you manage your health and continue to tailor training programs to meet your composition goals. Tracking body composition (we recommend every 3 months) and bone density (every 2-5 years) with a quick and easy scan helps you make sure you stay on the high road to good health!
B.CLINEXERPHYS, AES, ESSAM
Accredited Exercise Physiologist