Osteoporosis and Exercise

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak and, therefore, are more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis can progress without pain or symptoms until a bone breaks. While there is no cure for osteoporosis, however it can be treated and prevented.

There is no known cause, but there are several factors that increase the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. Some lifestyle elements are a factor in both the prevention and treatment of the disease. One such factor is exercise.

Weight Bearing Exercise

Regular weight-bearing exercise in children and teenagers helps produce strong bones; in adults it helps to maintain bone mass; after menopause it can be part of an overall treatment plan that aims to slow the rate of naturally occurring bone loss; and in adults over 65 years physical activity can be used to both reduce the rate of bone loss and avoid injury to bones by improving muscle strength and balance.

Exercise is important to our overall health and has been shown to help fight against many conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Studies also show that exercise can promote psychological health and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, which may be helpful to those who may already have osteoporosis.

Healthy Bone Density

Many experts agree that a key element in preventing osteoporosis is strong, healthy bones. Physical activity is vital for maintaining healthy bones throughout life. Practicing good exercise habits at a young age helps maximize the mineral density of bones while they are still growing and maturing, and continuing to exercise minimizes bone loss later in life.

The preventive value of physical exercise lies not only in potential reduced bone loss and improved muscle strength, but also in its profound benefits on preventing falls and reducing bone fractures.

Bones, like muscles, respond to stress by becoming bigger and stronger. While regular activity is good for overall health, activities such as resistance training and weight-bearing exercises are likely to be more beneficial in the process of preventing osteoporosis as they help to build bones and preserve bone mass.

There is strong evidence that physical activity begun early in life contributes to higher peak bone mass. Peak bone mass and subsequent bone mineral maintenance is largely affected by the exchange between mechanical stress, body composition, nutrition; and bone metabolism. Examples of weight bearing types of exercises include weight lifting, hiking, stair climbing, step aerobics, dancing, and other activities that require muscles to work against gravity without putting too much stress on bones and joints.

When it comes to osteoporosis in addition to increasing bone density, regular exercise has the added benefits of enhancing coordination and strengthening muscles, both of which serve to reduce the risk of falling. Weight bearing exercises are particularly beneficial for those who are more prone to falls. Falls are a major risk factor for fractures relating to osteoporosis. These types of fractures are the most common causes of morbidity and mortality arising from the disease. The National Institute of Health indicates that exercise can reduce the risk of falls by up to 25 percent.