Osteoporosis is a disease that affects millions of people. It is a disease that causes bone to become weak and brittle. Osteopenia refers to the early stages of osteoporosis and involves milder bone loss.
After the age of 30, our risk of developing osteoporosis increases. As we age, our bones naturally become thinner. This is due to a slow increase in dissolving bone and a decrease in bone building. Thus, you slowly loose a small amount of bone each year after the age of 30.
Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:
- Family history
- Heavy alcohol use (2 drinks/day for men; 1 drink/day for women)
- Getting little or no exercise
- Dieting excessively or having an eating disorder
- For females, having few or irregular menstrual cycles due to low body fat
- Women who have completed menopause and have low levels of estrogen
- Females with small body frames
Osteoporosis can be prevented and reversed. Bones become stronger and denser with exercise. Weight-bearing exercises and strength training can help to promote more bone growth. Weight-bearing activities such as walking can be done every day. Strength training should be done a minimal of two days a week. Please contact a fitness professional to determine an appropriate exercise prescription for your current condition.
Weight bearing activities that help to prevent osteoporosis include:
- Aerobics Classes (step, interval, circuit)
- In-line skating
- Elliptical machines
Strength training activities include:
- Weight training with free weights
- Weight machines
- Resistance bands
- Circuit training
If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Be cautious when exercising and avoid running and other high impact exercise if you have osteoporosis. Also, be cautious with any activities that involve forward bending, twisting, and reaching overhead. With proper diet and exercise, you can overcome the detrimental effects osteoporosis can have on your body.
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