Exercise to help prevent osteoporosis

A woman’s bones are strongest when she is twenty years old. After that, she continues to lose bone for the rest of her life, and for the first few years of menopause, the rate that she loses bones more than triples. A study from the University of Erlangen in Germany shows that vigorous exercise during the menopause helps prevent osteoporosis (Archives of Internal Medicine, May 24, 2004).

In this study, fifty women lifted weights in group training sessions twice a week, and exercised by themselves twice a week. They also took calcium and vitamin D. As their muscles became stronger, so did their bones. Their blood cholesterol levels dropped significantly and they complained far less about muscle and joint pains. This study shows that strengthening muscles also strengthens bones and that women who exercise vigorously in later life may have less muscle and joint pain.

Other studies have shown that women can benefit from a strength training program at any age to prevent osteoporosis or slow its progression. Join a gym that has weight-training machines and pick six to ten of the machines. Have the instructor help you select the appropriate weights and teach you how to use the machines properly. Do a set of eight movements in a row on the first machine, rest a few seconds and then do two more sets of eight. Do this on each of the machines. Repeat the routine two or three times a week. It's never too late to start.

Checked 8/22/10

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