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Pioneer

Waterloo researcher wins prestigious prize for pioneering work on osteoporosis

Waterloo - A researcher at the University of Waterloo who authored new exercise recommendations for people living with osteoporosis is the winner of the prestigious Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health, announced yesterday.

Lora Giangregorio, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Waterloo, will receive the prize worth $50,000 at a ceremony in February. McGill University presents the annual award to a researcher whose work has significant impact on the health and well-being of people in North America. The grant is put towards future research.

“As Canada's population gets older, the area of aging and health promotion is a research priority for the University of Waterloo,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. "Professor Giangregorio's innovative approach to the prevention of injury from falls has the potential to improve the lives of so many older people around the world. The University congratulates her on this deserved honour and is proud that a Waterloo researcher is the first woman to ever receive it."

A leading expert in bone health and exercise, Professor Giangregorio’s research is transforming the way clinicians, physiotherapists and patients manage osteoporosis. Her pioneering guidelines on exercise and physical activity — called Too Fit To Fracture — are the result of an international consensus on reducing falls and fractures through physical activity.

Falls remain the leading cause of hip fractures among older adults, and can also lead to spine fractures. More than 80 per cent of all fractures after the age of 50 are the result of osteoporosis, with a third of women in Canada and one in five men experiencing an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

Lawrence S. Bloomberg, a McGill alumnus and Toronto-based investor, founded the award in 2011 with Manulife. A previous winner is Dr. David J. A. Jenkins, inventor of the glycemic index and inspiration behind low-cholesterol diets.

Osteoporosis Canada partnered on the development of the guidelines, and officially launched them in June 2014. The recommendations propose a shift away from aerobic-only exercise regimes to those that emphasize strength and balance training in combination with aerobic physical activity to achieve the greatest benefits.

“It’s vital to understand the needs of patients and health-care providers and tailor research questions to address them,” said Professor Giangregorio. “I’m honoured to receive this prize and look forward to using it to conduct further research that will help people living with osteoporosis.”

As a member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Osteoporosis Canada, Professor Giangregorio is involved in producing educational tools for practitioners and patients. She collaborated on the development of the Bone Fit workshop, aimed at training physiotherapists and kinesiologists on ways to assess and tailor exercise for people with osteoporosis. She recently produced a video series for patients showcasing how to incorporate effective and safe exercise into their lives.

Photo: Professor Lora Giangregorio won the Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.
(Photo credit: Light Imaging)

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