Osteoporosis Prevention & Treatment (cont.)

It is known that young men and women who exercise regularly generally develop stronger bones with higher bone density than those who lead sedentary lives. After 35 years of age, men and women start to lose bone. Adequate nutrition and regular weight-bearing exercise can slow this age-related bone loss.

Furthermore, regular weight-bearing exercises have been shown to increase bone density in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Regular exercise means exercising at least 30 minutes three to four times per week. Long term commitment to regular exercise is important, as the benefits of exercise on the bone are quickly lost once the person stops exercising.

The best exercises for the bones are weight-bearing exercises (exercising against gravity). Examples of weight- bearing exercises include walking, jogging, dancing, stair climbing, hiking, low impact aerobics, tennis, etc. On the other hand, swimming and stretching are not weight bearing exercises that may not have the same beneficial effect on the bones as weight-bearing exercises.

Prudent exercise is important to avoid injury to already weakened bones. In patients over 40 and in those with conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, types and levels of exercise should be prescribed and monitored by their doctors.

Finally, extreme levels of exercise (such as marathon running) may not be healthy for the bones. Marathon running in young women that leads to weight loss and loss of menstrual periods can actually cause osteoporosis.