How are osteoporosis and exercise related?

Mirabai Holland

Bones are living tissue. 
They grow to their full size and density by about age 20. But activity in our bones is far from over. Our bodies are constantly "Remodeling" our bones to meet the demands we put on them. In this electrochemical remodeling process that takes 3-4 months, destroyer cells called osteoclasts break down old weakened bone tissue and builder cells called osteoblasts replace it with new bone. Adults replace about 10% of their bone cells each year. So about every 10 years or so we get a new skeleton.
When you have Osteoporosis, that remodeling process is out of whack.
Bone gets broken down and little or nothing takes its place.
But we can help prevent and perhaps even help reverse the effects of osteoporosis by working out our bones.
Bones are strengthened wih weight bearing and resistance exercise. This process is called bone loading.
Studies with tennis players show that, from the resistance of whacking a ball back and forth every day, the bones in the racquet arm become stronger and more denser than the bones in the non-racquet arm.
Bone loading workouts are weight bearing and weight resistance workouts for the whole body with special emphasis on the areas most risk for Osteoporotic fracture, the spine, the thigh bone at the hip and the forearm at the wrist. Ask your doctor to recommend a program that's appropriate for your particular condition.

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
In young people, exercise adds good stress to bones to make them stronger. As we age, exercise is almost more important in keeping muscles strong and in preventing falls than it is in actually increasing bone mass. Depending on nutrition, weight bearing exercise such as walking, and genetics, women reach their highest bone density, or strength, about age 30 to 35 years. From that age, women begin to lose 1 to 1.5% each year, with a temporary but rapid loss of 4 to 8 % immediately after menopause.

The importance of exercise and keeping strong really shows up over time. Based on bone loss alone, we would expect four times more hip fractures from 50 years old to 80 years old. But the actual increase in hip fractures is 30 times higher in an 80 year old than in a 50 year old person. Many risk factors have been identified that can lead to falls, but loss of muscle strength and poor balance are big contributors. If you don't fall, you don't break!

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