Bone Health Matters for Men & Women

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By David E. Ebbecke, PT, DPT, MBA

Healthy bones can help you stay strong and active throughout your life. If you achieve good bone health during childhood and maintain it, you can help to avoid bone loss and fracture later. For healthy bones, it is important to maintain a physically active lifestyle and eat a balanced diet with plenty of calcium, vitamin D and perhaps other supplements. Physical therapists can design a unique program for you to help keep your bones healthy.

Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that affects men and women (mostly women), usually as they age. It is
associated with low bone mass and thinning of the bone structure, making bones fragile and more likely to break.

Some people are more at risk for osteoporosis. Not all risk factors can be changed, but healthy habits and a proper
exercise routine can keep bones healthy and reduce risk. Risk factors, according to the National Osteoporosis
Foundation, include age, gender (more common in women), family history, low body weight, history of broken bones, inactive lifestyle, smoking, alcohol abuse, and certain medications and medical conditions. Physical therapists can help prevent osteoporosis and treat its effects by designing individualized exercise programs to benefit bone health, improve posture, and enhance core stability and balance. Most of these exercises are simple and can be done at home with no special equipment.

Fight Fracture with Fitness
Inactivity is a major risk factor for osteoporosis. The right exercises and good habits can keep bones strong and
prevent or reverse the effects of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, is an important way to
build and maintain healthy bones. Muscle strengthening exercises have been found to stimulate bone growth and
can help prevent and treat osteoporosis. These types of exercises are best if started early in life and regularly done.
However, it is important to remember that you can begin exercising at any age and still reap great benefits.

David E. Ebbecke, PT, DPT, MBA ([email protected]) is president of Piedmont Physical Therapy, Inc., www.piedmontpt.com.

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