Osteoporosis and Exercise

By: sybil - July 20, 2009

How can regular exercise and healthy living help prevent a disease that affects an estimated 10 million Americans?

Often we forget to consider the consequences of the choices we make in our everyday. As youngsters, we desire to play and be active, but as we get older a sedentary life sets in and our bodies begin to unknowingly weaken. Osteoporosis, or porous bones, involves the deterioration of bone tissue caused by a lack of vitamins, exercise and healthy eating. When a bone’s tissue deteriorates the bone becomes fragile ,and susceptible to breakage and fractures; most often the breaks happen in the hips, spine and wrists. Women are the highest population to be affected by the disease and are most often diagnosed with the disease after menopause, however, men are also often diagnosed. Osteoporosis is not curable, but there are many treatments available. Patients who undergo treatment for Osteoporosis are able to live active and enjoyable lives.

How do I know if I have Osteoporosis?
The best way to find out if you are suffering from Osteoporosis is to consult your doctor. If a doctor suspects you have the disease, s/he will require you to take a bone density test.

Can I prevent Osteoporosis?
Most of our bone mass is developed before the age of 30. After 30 we have to work hard to maintain the same amount of bone tissue. Bone, like muscle, is living tissue and can stay strong with exercise. Also being physically fit helps the body to be strong and balanced which lessens the chances of falls and fractures.

What can I do to decrease my chances of suffering from Osteoporosis?
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends these 5 easy steps to help prevent Osteoporosis:

1) Consume your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
2) Exercise regularly. On average 30 minutes of weight bearing exercise daily is suggested.
3) Avoid tobacco use and alcohol consumption.
4) Talk with your doctor.
5) If needed, take a bone density test

What foods have calcium and vitamin D in them?
Vitamin supplements help in rejuvenating vitamin deficiencies, but a better way to increase your vitamin intake is through healthy foods. Foods high in calcium include low fat milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, almonds, tofu, and black beans. Vitamin D rich foods include many types of fish like salmon, oats, eggs and many breakfast cereals.

What types of exercises should I do?
Weight bearing exercises are best for building stronger bones. Weight bearing exercises encompass those that utilize your own bodyweight like running, walking or aerobics, and weight lifting exercises. If you are afraid to use weight lifting machines at the gym, there are many alternatives to the standard workout. Try using an exercise tube and stability ball in your workout. Always consult with a doctor before starting any workout regime.

Staying in shape means more than just shedding a few pounds and feeling good in your favorite jeans, it means keeping your whole body healthy, improving your quality of life and extending your life span.

About the Submitter


Melissa has been a professional dancer in NYC for 10 years and holds a BA in Creative Writing from CUNY Hunter College.

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