The thinning and weakening of bones can occur over time. Although this problem is more common in women, it may affect men as they age. This bone loss condition, known as osteoporosis, is frequently associated with an increased incidence of fracture. Exercise is an effective and healthy way to prevent and treat osteoporosis. Exercise during growth enhances the building of a stronger skeleton by increasing bone mass and bone size and, therefore, has long-term beneficial skeletal effects which could possibly reduce the incidence of fractures in later life.1
Regular weight bearing-exercises such as walking, running, jogging and dancing help to stimulate bone formation and retain calcium in the bones that are bearing the load. Regular exercise also increases muscle strength, coordination and balance, while decreasing the likelihood of falls in the elderly. Furthermore, regular exercise helps patients suffering from osteoporosis to continue living independently; and, it also improves the quality of life.2
In postmenopausal women, aerobics, weight-bearing and resistance exercises have all been shown to be effective in increasing the bone mass of the spine. In addition, walking increases the bone density of the hip bones that are highly prone to fracture in postmenopausal women.3 Aerobic exercises such as walking are the best physical options for prevention of osteoporosis. Walking outside in the sunshine not only strengthens the bones, it also helps in the formation of vitamin D, which is required for absorption of calcium from the intestines into the blood. Improved calcium levels in the body help in the formation of stronger bones and also aids in the repair of weakened bones.
- Karlsson MK, Nordqvist A, Karlsson C. Physical Activity Increases Bone Mass during Growth. Food Nutr Res. 2008; 52. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v52i0.1871. Epub 2008 Oct 1.
- Miyakoshi N. Daily Practice Using the Guidelines for Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Effectiveness of Exercise for Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis. Clin Calcium. 2008; 18(8): 1162–1168. Article in Japanese.
- Bonaiuti D, Shea B, Iovine R, Negrini S, Robinson V, et al. Exercise for Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis in Postmenopausal Women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002; (3): CD000333.