Osteoporosis and Exercise

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What is Osteoporosis?

“Osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bone”, is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced.  As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased.  The loss of bone occurs “silently” and progressively.  Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs”*

There are some more common areas where fractures occur, such as the hip, spine, and wrist.  As one ages, the incident of these fractures increase in both men and women.  Some of these fractures can cause serious consequences.  The spinal and hip fractures being the most common.  Spinal injuries can result in loss of height, intense back pain, and deformity.  And hip fracture may even require surgery.

Exercise can help with Osteoporosis.  If you have Osteoporosis, you may mistakenly think exercise will lead to fracture.  In fact, though, using your muscles helps protect your bones.  You can reduce the risk of spinal problems and broken bones that can result in loss of mobility and independence through exercise.

“Evidence shows that exercise may help build and maintain bone density at any age. Studies have seen bone density increase by doing regular resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, two or three times a week. This type of weight bearing exercise appears to stimulate bone formation, and the retention of calcium, in the bones that are bearing the load. The force of muscles pulling against bones stimulates this bone building process. So any exercise that places force on a bone will strengthen that bone”.*

In women, after menopause, the pace of bone loss really picks up.  Starting an exercise program  can increase your muscle strength, improve your balance, and help you avoid falls.  And more importantly, it may keep your bones from getting weaker.

The good news is that Osteoporosis is now readily treatable with a combination of a healthy lifestyle and appropriate medical treatment, many fractures can be avoided.

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