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Exercise Increases Bone Density
By Shane Bombara, Clinical Coordinator

Osteoporosis is one of the most prevalent bone diseases in the United States and affects millions of Americans ever year. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by having unusually low bone mineral density and weakening of the internal structure of the bone. Individuals suffering from osteoporosis are more likely to suffer from multiple fractures and therefore increasing the likelihood of having a higher rate of comorbidities to occur. Furthermore, osteoporosis is more prevalent in women than men.

Although osteoporosis is typically due to aging, there are other factors that influence its onset. Genetic abnormalities, hormonal disorders, tobacco use, nutrient deficiencies in Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, as well as increased intake of glucocorticoid medications are just some of the possible reasons one could be diagnosed with osteoporosis. Those diagnosed with bone related diseases can look to treat their conditions with one of the most natural and healthiest ways possible: exercise.

It is well documented that regular physical activity has a variety of positive benefits on our health. Just like muscle, bone is also a living tissue that can be strengthened with routine exercise. Fortunately, physical activity has been shown to actually increase bone density, or at the very least, preserve it depending on the age of the individual. In order to accomplish bone-building or preservation one has to present the body and the bones with weight-bearing exercise in order to overload these structures.

Weight-bearing exercises would include weight training, walking, jogging, skipping, jumping rope, or dancing to name a few. While these activities can mitigate the risk of osteoporosis, strengthening of bones and muscles can also lead to increased balance, stability, and coordination – which can all be negatively impacted if weight-bearing exercise is excluded from an exercise regimen.

Adults should aim to get around 30 minutes a day of moderate regular physical activity and 60 minutes for adolescents and children. Walking is considered the optimal bone loading exercise and should be included in any program that is aiming to preserve bone density. There are a few considerations to consider, though. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Physical activity will only affect the area of the bone at the skeletal sites that are being stressed by the exercise. Also, activities that have a lot more impact than most like jumping, hopping, or skipping may increase bone mass more than low or moderate-intensity exercises, like a brisk walk.

In conclusion, although these diseases can be unfavorable, they can be addressed with an adequate amount of appropriate exercises.

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Interested in learning more or starting an exercise program call the Washington health System Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center and speak to a representative, (724) 250-5208.

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