Weight-bearing exercises may protect the bones from osteoporosis

August 3, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

Weight-bearing exercises may help protect the bones from osteoporosis.

One of the most common orthopaedics problems in the U.S. is osteoporosis. More than 40 million Americans either have this bone-weakening condition or are at risk for it, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health. If not treated properly, osteoporosis may lead to bone fractures, which increases the risk of long-term disability and death among older individuals.

Bones are more dynamic than some people may think. They are constantly in the middle of a balancing act in which older tissue breaks down and is replaced by newer bone. Until about the age of 30, the rate of bone replacement was faster than that of breakdown, leaving the bones strong. However, as people age, the rate of bone replacement grows slower, making the bones more brittle.

There are several ways that individuals can avoid this problem, including weight bearing exercises, according a health column in The Salisbury Post in North Carolina. These activities, which include walking, force the bones into working against gravity, which stimulates the formation of new tissue. People with low bone mass may benefit from stair-step machines and low-impact aerobics. Resistance exercises with free weights or resistance bands may also be helpful. Swimming and bicycling won't have the same effects.

"Talk with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program. This is especially important if you have a chronic condition, such as heart disease," the health column read.

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