Do you remember the milk commercials with the slogan, “calcium helps prevent osteoporosis”? It’s true, calcium and vitamin D are known to help develop strong bones. But simply drinking milk every day is not enough to protect you from osteoporosis. Another key ingredient to strong, healthy bones is exercise. A new study reveals why exercise is so crucial to our bone strength.
Why Exercise Matters
Scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute recently performed a study that reveals a unique hormone is released from muscles during exercise. The hormone irisin was discovered in 2012, but new research concludes there is a receptor for irisin which allows the hormone to connect to and activate osteocytes. Osteocytes are the most common cell types in adults. They are responsible for the formation and breakdown of bone. Irisin serves as the link between exercise and major health benefits. This research proves that exercise leads not only to weight loss by burning fat, but it strengthens the bone structure and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Osteocytes gradually decrease throughout your life which is why osteoporosis is common in old age. Exercise is important for so many reasons like maintaining a healthy weight, regulating blood pressure, managing stress and strengthening muscles. Now, we can add that exercise helps prevent osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Throughout your lifetime, your bone breaks down and new bone forms. This happens at a rapid pace until bone mass peaks in your 20s. As you age, the process slows down. Eventually, your bone breaks down, and bone mass is lost, faster than new bone forms. When this happens, osteoporosis occurs. Through osteoporosis, your bones become weak and brittle which causes fractures. Fractures are most common in the spine, hip, or wrist. Osteoporosis is most common in white and Asian women who have experienced menopause. There are few warning signs so you may not even realize your bones are in danger until osteoporosis has already begun. However, risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of calcium, lowered sex hormones, various medical conditions, and age. Because there are several risk factors that you have no control over, it’s important to know the symptoms to look out for and the best practices to reduce your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms associated with the early stages of bone loss. When osteoporosis has begun, you may notice back pain caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra. Your posture may become stooped and your height decreases. If your bones fracture or break more easily, there is a good chance osteoporosis is at play. If you went through menopause early or have a family history of osteoporosis, schedule an appointment with us at The Woman’s Clinic.
While it may be difficult to prevent osteoporosis completely, you can reduce your risk and increase your bone strength by making a few lifestyle adjustments. The most important is weight-bearing exercise and strength training. When you lift weights, you aren’t simply building muscle mass, but bone mass in your arms and spine. Weight-bearing exercise like walking, jogging, dancing, and stair climbing helps build bone strength in your lower spine, hips, and legs. As you get older, consider exercises that emphasizes balance like tai chi or yoga to help lower your risk of falling.
If you have questions or concerns about osteoporosis and how to avoid this disease, make an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today. Our team of physicians is dedicated to walking you through every life stage and the changes that come with aging.