Community exercise classes, walking and volunteering all help Phyllis manage her osteoporosis

76-year-old Phyllis McKendrick from Broxburn has osteoporosis in her spine.

Phyllis McKendrick and Isobel Shallow

Diagnosed over 15 years ago she knows that exercising is good for maintaining her bone density after receiving advice from her GP and reading up on the condition. She takes alendronic acid weekly and calcium tablets daily to strengthen her bones.

Sometimes l get aches and pains mainly in my spine however I try to keep as active as possible as l feel this helps. I just adapt things if I am having a bad day however it hasn't stopped me from enjoying the activities I attend. Load bearing activities are the best way to manage my condition and I take my medication as required and follow up appointments. 

"When I was diagnosed it was a shock at first. However, I wanted to keep as active as possible as the advice I was given was to make sure that I exercised to help my bone density. I am not the type of person to let things get to me." 

To look after her wellbeing, she regularly joins Xcite Ageing Well West Lothian’s classes. 

I attend line dancing classes 2 to 3 times a week.  Fit steps, a dance-based class, weekly. A weekly easy line resistance training class and a paracise class twice a week. I also have been doing gentle exercise online with my membership with Xcite Ageing Well.

A volunteer with the Xcite Ageing Well West Lothian project providing refreshments for the singing for health groups and at events, she also welcomes new attendees to the line dancing classes. To get a chance to spend time together away from their exercise classes Phyllis and a few others decided to meet up and go out walking themselves every Tuesday exploring different parts of West Lothian.  
One such walk during June, in glorious full sunshine, from Broxburn to Linlithgow gave everyone a valuable vitamin-D boost and the chance to chat and enjoy the many colourful gardens in full bloom. For the return 7-mile journey home they used their bus passes!

It’s the social side Phyllis enjoys when out walking with her friends, like Isobel pictured above, who use What’s App to keep in touch with each other.

I always feel invigorated after my walks and thoroughly enjoy meeting my friends. We have so much fun on our walks. Loads of chatting and laughter and the exercise for me is fun and beneficial to my condition. I enjoy the cup of tea and social time at the end as I love the company.

The pandemic has had an enormous effect on Phyllis.  Thankfully, Xcite Ageing Well West Lothian has been there to help her get through the tough days.
"The pandemic has been a real challenge as I missed my friends and family as I live on my own. I missed all the face-to-face exercise classes however Avril my instructor at Xcite Ageing Well West Lothian kept me active online with paracise and line dance classes. This was a great help to me. I did go walking when allowed however it wasn't the same on my own.” 
Approximately, 300,000 people in Scotland are living with osteoporosis which has no cure. This figure is likely to rise as the average age of the population increases. In the UK, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer a fracture at some point after the age of 50, mainly because of poor bone health.*
Adopting a healthy, active lifestyle, for example, through walking regularly and performing strength and balance exercises at least twice a week can help to:

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Improve balance
  • Decrease the risk of bone fractures
  • Maintain or improve posture
  • Relieve or decrease pain

The Scottish Government has just published the Women’s Health Plan which highlights the role of physical activity in supporting women and girl’s health. Physical activity can decrease the risk of early-onset conditions including menopause, musculoskeletal conditions and osteoporosis and help manage these conditions. 

Find out more about Paths for All’s Walking for Health programme and Strength and Balance exercises which can help prevent and manage conditions such as osteoporosis.

Find out more about Xcite Ageing West Lothian's Health Walks.

*Royal Osteoporosis Society