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How does exercise help prevent osteoporosis?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Exercise can help prevent osteoporosis and loss of bone density. Any resistance activity -- walking up a hill or lifting groceries -- strengthens muscles and, just as important, increases bone density, making bones stronger and less likely to fracture. Indeed, resistance activity actually increases the calcium content of bones. A study of over 9,500 women found that those who walked three days a week had a 30 percent lower risk of hip fracture; more walking and walking up hills were associated with even lower risks of hip fracture. Although strengthening -- or weight-bearing -- exercises are the best for improving bone strength, new evidence shows that exercise such as riding a stationary bicycle and water aerobics may also increase bone density.
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Exercise decreases osteoporosis by helping to build bone. Weight-lifting exercises help to build bone more than aerobic exercises because they put more stress on the bones. Bones are a dynamic structure in our bodies that are constantly being remodeled (building and breaking down). They store calcium and other minerals essential to our everyday lives, and during the remodeling process, they release these minerals into the blood. If we lift weights or do other weight bearing exercises, it helps to cause more building of the bones, which in turn increases bone density. Increasing bone density is the exact opposite of osteoporosis, which is low bone mineral density.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.