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Osteoporosis & Walking

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone that affects an estimated 10 million Americans, 80 percent of them women. It is sometimes referred to as the "bone-thinning disease" with bones over time becoming porous, brittle and susceptible to injury.

Everyone loses some bone with aging - women abruptly at menopause when estrogen levels decline, men more slowly as male hormones decline over time. While walking cannot restore bone that is already lost to osteoporosis, it can help prevent osteoporosis and is a useful exercise for dealing with the condition if it occurs.

Osteoporosis is directly related to bone strength. The more inactive your lifestyle is the greater risk you have to develop osteoporosis. But even if you've never exercised in your life, it's not too late to begin! Walking is a good exercise for preventing osteoporosis because it strengthens your legs, hips and lower spine.

The American Heart Association states that walking is the preferred physical activity for beneficial results since it so easy, convenient and low-cost. Walking has the lowest drop-out rate of all physical activities.

Studies show that walking is actually better for osteoporosis prevention than some exercises like swimming and cycling. Because those exercises are non-weight bearing, they don’t give your bones the workout that walking can. Providing a little bit more “impact” to bones is helpful. It signals bones to begin building mass.

If you're inactive, start walking! If you're already walking, add a 10-20 second jog, side-to-side strides, or forward and backward steps. The surprise change in direction may help build stronger bones. Consider trying some strength training or tai chi. Strong muscles and good balance will prevent falls and reduce the risk of fractures from weak bones.

In addition to exercise, eat plenty of calcium-rich foods and consider hormone replacement therapy if you're approaching menopause.

Find more walking-related articles.

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