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Walking and Osteoporosis

Walking and OsteoperosisLike many disorders, hearing a diagnosis of Osteoporosis will put a shiver up your spine. However with Osteoporosis your spine may not be in the condition to handle it. Simply put, Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones weaken to what could be dangerous levels. The danger manifests in the form of broken bones of the spine, hip, or wrists. These dangers do not just exist from falling, but broken bones could result from simple everyday actions like a hug or cough.

Women are significantly more likely to get Osteoporosis then men. 10% of women over 50 have Osteoporosis while only 2% of men over 50 have it. Sex isn’t the only factor that can increase your risk for Osteoporosis. Age is another major, maybe obvious, factor. The older you are the greater your risk for Osteoporosis. Additionally, race plays a role as white and Asian people are at an increased risk. A petite frame doesn’t help either as thinner-framed individuals will also have a greater risk for the disorder. Another factor is family history, heredity definitely adds to your likelihood of getting Osteoporosis if your parents were inflicted with it. Nutrition and eating disorders play a part. A diet lacking in essential nutrients like Calcium and Vitamin D rob your bones of their needed building blocks. Individuals with eating disorders like anorexia also steal from their “bone bank.” Finally, long term use of some medications can lead to an increased incidence of Osteoporosis.
What can you do about it? Prevention, like the prescription for treatment of most disorders, is the best medicine. Obviously, there are many factors you can’t affect. Your sex and race are predetermined. We can only hope we age, the alternative is not a favorable option. However, what we need to strive for is to age gracefully and this we can control to a major degree. In the case of Osteoporosis the first steps are to increase your bone density to the highest level possible. Unfortunately, this happens when we are young as we often peak in bone density in our 20’s.

One of the factors you have the most control over is your lifestyle. Getting out and exercising regularly is key. Being a couch potato increases your risk. By regularly performing weight –bearing exercises you can either increase your bone density or at least slow the progress of its reduction. Walking three or four times a week as well as adding a strength training program are highly advisable. HOWEVER, PLEASE CONSULT A DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ANY FITNESS PROGRAM. Avoiding substance abuse is also a great help. This includes not smoking and not abusing alcohol. Paying attention to your diet will also go a long way in reducing your risk. A diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D is key.

It is important to stress that although walking won’t reverse Osteoporosis, it will low its progress. So get out and walk!

References
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/osteoporosis.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128
http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/osteoporosis-risk-factors
http://www.healthcentral.com/osteoporosis/c/53591/85832/osteoporosis

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