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Osteoporosis: Keeping bones strong

After a diagnosis of osteoporosis, measures may be recommended to help strengthen the bones which have been weakened by the condition.

These steps can help lead to stronger bones so you can prevent further bone loss and the effects of osteoporosis.

Can exercise help build stronger bones if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis?

Exercise is a key part in both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, specifically weight-bearing exercise. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, starting a regular exercise programme is an important step you can take to prevent further bone loss. That’s because lack of exercise is a major risk factor for bone loss. But it’s one you can control. You can’t change your sex, age or family history. You can change your exercise habits.

Along with keeping bones strong, exercise strengthens muscles, gives joints more support and keeps your joints flexible and pliant. If you’ve already had one fracture, exercise and activity may help to shorten the time of recovery and decrease the amount of pain you feel. Always talk to your doctor to make sure you can cope physically with exercise after a fracture.

Exercise can also keep you balanced and flexible. As people age, the risk of falls becomes greater and falling is a key risk factor for fractures. But having good balance and being flexible can protect you against falling.

Can sitting all day at an office job decrease bone mass and cause osteoporosis?

Somewhere between the ages of 30 and 40, many of us become less active because our jobs are sedentary. As we pass 50, this tendency to be sedentary generally increases. This can be a big problem, especially if other risk factors for osteoporosis develop.

If you work at a sedentary job all day and find that exercise and physical activity are becoming less a part of your normal lifestyle, you can do something. You can plan to add periods of physical activity throughout your day to help keep your bones strong.

How important is it to be physically active? Some interesting studies have shown that a marked decrease in physical activity, for example in people with prolonged bed rest, results in profound decline in bone mass. A prime example of what can happen can be found in the bone disorders of astronauts. Tests on astronauts who experience weightlessness show the necessity of weight bearing activity for keeping bones strong.

Can overtraining result in reduced bone mass and fractures?

Interestingly, mounting evidence shows that too much physical activity can result in bone disorders. The hormonal imbalances that result from intense training may lead to decreased bone mass and low bone mass known as osteopenia. These imbalances can even lead to fractures. This phenomenon is a common experience for many young female athletes. Maintaining a constant balance of exercise and recovery is crucial for helping to keep osteoporosis at bay.

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