Based on current research, there are two interrelated issues that may be responsible for the development of osteoporosis; these are the loss of calcium from the bones and the loss of lean muscle tissue. The loss of calcium is related to many factors such as poor absorption of dietary calcium and poor retention of the calcium already contained in the bone. If you have been paying attention you will notice that osteoporosis is most prevalent in women. Some experts feel that this is related to the amount of lean muscle mass women have as compared to men. It is theorized that because men have larger and stronger muscles their incidence of osteoporosis is less. Larger and stronger muscles put more stress and strain on the bones. As a result, the body tends to build the bones stronger to handle to force that is being exerted on them.
Exercise and Osteoporosis
While all the factors behind the development of this disease are not entirely known at this time, lifestyle is clearly involved. Recently, a study was conducted with approximately 7,549 same-sex twin pairs born before 1946. Researchers found that the susceptibility to osteoporotic fractures in these elderly participants was not strongly influenced by genetic factors, especially in elderly women. (2) As such, the development of osteoporosis seems clearly related to lifestyle factors.
As we discussed above, the stress and strain that the muscles exert on bone helps keep the bones strong. One lifestyle factor that is clearly related to the development of osteoporosis is weight-bearing physical activity, or the lack there of. In fact, a recent study of 25 women, 49 to 61 years old, found that those who jogged or played volleyball had significantly greater lumbar spine Bone Mineral Density than those who had no regular physical activity. (3) The good news is that even if you already have some form of the disease, starting a weight-bearing exercise program will help. In fact, in another study, researchers found that even after a significant amount bone had been lost, an exercise program did halt or even reverse bone loss. (3)
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