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What is Osteofit?

What is Osteofit?

Osteofit is a BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre certified exercise, education and falls prevention program for individuals recently diagnosed with osteoporosis, low bone density or who are at risk of falls and fractures.

Osteofit is:

  • Safe for individuals with osteoporosis
  • Medically endorsed and based on published research
  • Addresses the need for an accessible community program providing the transition from physiotherapy to group fitness classes for those who are at risk for falls and fractures

Research demonstrates the beneficial impact of physical activity on bone health and how exercise in the senior years may slow the decline in bone mass and reduce falls. Exercise is a proven effective treatment option for people with osteoporosis and those at risk of falling, in combination with medication and nutrition.

  • Exercise can modify some fall risk factors and reduce falls in older adults
  • A physically active lifestyle is associated with a reduced risk of osteoporotic fracture.

Falls Prevention

One of the goals of Osteofit is to prevent falls. Falls are an important cause of serious fracture. Approximately 30% of individuals over 65 years of age fall at least once per year and about half of these may do so recurrently. Non-fatal falls may result in individuals considerably reducing their activity for fear of future falls and almost half of fallers are unable to get up without help. Regular strength and balance training helps to prevent falls and it can reduce the risk of fall-related fractures in older adults. 

Age-related changes in muscle and bone also predispose people to both falls and fractures. Muscle strength and mass decline 30-50% between the ages of 30 and 80. Falls are reduced more as a result of balance, resistance, and flexibility training than as a result of endurance training.

Osteofit exercises are chosen for their effectiveness in decreasing the rate of bone loss, strengthening muscles, improving posture and balance to reduce falls. Modifications and varying intensity levels are taught so that participants work at their own level.


Osteofit Classes

The Osteofit program has two levels.

Osteofit Level 1 

This introductory level focuses on developing strength and endurance in individuals with no previous experience working with exercise equipment.  Exercises include strength, agility, balance and resistance training. The goal is to improve participants' capacity for activities of daily living.

Osteofit Level 2

After mastering basic exercise techniques, participants undertake a progressively more difficult exercise program that challenges balance, strength and agility. The aim is to improve posture and the ability to move as needed for daily activities through safe and specific movements in a supportive environment.

All Osteofit classes incorporate an education component. These informative and educational segments are provided to participants at the beginning of each Osteofit class. Topics include:

  • Exercise safety 
  • Basic Nutrition
  • Active living
  • Managing osteoporosis
  • Preventing falls

Get Up & Go! 

A collaboration between BC Women's Osteofit and Fraser Health Falls and Injury Prevention. Get Up & Go! provides an entry level exercise program for seniors at high risk for falls, for those with balance and mobility impairments, those using mobility aids (canes, walkers and wheelchairs). It is a safe exercise program designed to improve strength, balance and coordination as well as functional ability, independence and quality of life. Contact Fraser Health, telephone 604- 587-7866, or click here for a list of classes and for more information. Get Up & Go! is taught by registered Osteofit instructors.


Evidence Supporting the Osteofit Program?

Osteofit is an evidence-based program designed and updated by clinical specialists from BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre's former Osteoporosis Program in association with the Bone Health Research Group at the UBC Centre for Hip Health & Mobility.

Strength and balance training, as prescribed in the Osteofit program, is an essential part of evidence-based clinical guideline care for patients with osteoporosis (Brown and Josse, 2002). The primary goals of the training are to maintain bone and muscles mass and to improve balance and reaction time (American Geriatrics Society, British Geriatrics Society, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Panel on Falls Prevention 2001).

Clinical trials conducted by the University of British Columbia's Centre for Hip Health & Mobility's Bone Health Research Group have shown the Osteofit program to benefit participants by modifying the risk factors for osteoporotic fracture.  Benefits include improvements in:

  • muscle mass
  • strength gain
  • dynamic balance

Osteofit has been proven to improve strength and balance in 65-75 year old women with osteoporosis who undertook the program, demonstrating a:

  • 13% improvement in quadriceps strength
  • 5% improvement in a balanced movement pattern

Studies also show that the social aspects of a program such asOsteofit can significantly improve the health status of previously isolated women. However, the studies to date did not assessOsteofit in a 'naturalistic' setting (i.e., in the previous studies participants were recruited specifically for research).


Who benefits from participation in Osteofit?

Osteofit is an exercise and education program designed for individuals with osteoporosis, low bone density or who are at risk of falls and fractures.

The program is best suited for individuals who have no previous exercise experience or have not exercised for many years. These individuals are often fearful of falling and fracturing their bones during exercise, as are their caregivers, and need a safe environment with careful instruction.

Osteofit may also be beneficial for individuals who do not have osteoporosis but who are seeking to become more active and want an introductory low-impact, strength, balance, coordination, and stretch program.

Osteofit classes are open to women and men. Participants are commonly women over the age of 50.

Osteofit is more commonly available in the group class format. It can also be adapted to personal training.

Education & training

What Kind of Continuing Education is Offered?

BC Women's Hospital offers continuing education workshops for health care professionals and registered Osteofit instructors several times per year. Topics include updated information on:

  • nutrition for health
  • strength training principles for older adults
  • exercises for the management of osteoporosis, contra-indicated exercises, and modifications to exercise for postural compromises
  • arthritis and exercise cautions and modifications
  • latest research on physical activity and falls prevention for individuals with osteoporosis

Visit the Instructors page for information on upcoming continuing education workshops.

Osteofit Instructors

Osteofit instructors take specialized training from BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre. To qualify for registration, each instructor must:

  • Be registered as a BC Recreation & Parks Association (BCRPA) Fitness Leader with Third Age designation (Seniors' Fitness knowledge).
  • Have completed the Osteofit Instructor Training Course and passed the OSTEOFIT exam.
  • Have passed an Osteofit Instructor Competency Evaluation (abbreviated as O-ICE).
  • Maintain a high level of competency through annual professional development workshops.
  • Obtain recertification every two years.

Instructors have access to BC Women's Hospital's clinical team of Physicians, Nurse Clinician, Physiotherapist, and Dietitian who provide on-going support to the program. This ensures all Osteofit classes adhere to a standardized program and provide for a safer environment for individuals with osteoporosis.

Visit the Instructors page for more information on Osteofit instructor training and certification.

Referrals & forms

Referrals and Medical Clearance Forms

Participants do NOT need a referral from a health care provider and can contact their local community facility directly to register for an Osteofit class.

Some individuals may require medical clearance from a physician or nurse practitioner, such as patients over 69 years of age and/or who answer 'yes' to any questions in the verbal Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (Par Q). At the first class, the Osteofit instructor will determine whether an individual requires medical clearance to participate in the class.

Download the Osteofit Health Screening and Medical Clearance forms.

Osteofit classes are offered in many local community recreation facilities and seniors' centres throughout BC.

Visit the Osteofit main page and select the "Find a class" tab to find a class in your community, 

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