Prevention of Osteoporosis (cont.)
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Exercise and Osteoporosis Prevention
Exercise is important to prevent osteoporosis. Although bones may seem like hard and lifeless structures, bones are more like muscle; bones are living tissue that respond to exercise by becoming stronger. Physical activity during childhood and adolescence increases bone density and strength. This means that children who get exercise are more likely to reach a higher peak bone density (maximum strength and solidness), which usually occurs by 30 years of age. People who reach higher peak bone densities are less likely to develop osteoporosis.
The best exercise to prevent osteoporosis is weight-bearing exercise that works against gravity. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, jumping rope, and dancing. A second type of exercise is resistance exercise. Resistance exercises include activities that use muscle strength to build muscle mass, and these also help to strengthen bone. These activities include weight lifting, such as using free weights and weight machines found at gyms and health clubs. Exercise has additional benefits in older people as well because exercising increases muscle strength, coordination, and balance and leads to better overall health (see Fall Prevention and Osteoporosis).
Elderly people, people with osteoporosis, people with heart or lung disease, and people who have not exercised for most of adulthood should check with their health care professional before beginning any exercise program.
Coburn Hobar, MD
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