Osteoporosis is defined by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue.  This deterioration leaves the bones brittle and susceptible to fractures.  The best treatment for osteoporosis is prevention.  This prevention should be a life long process. The majority of our bone mass is developed before the age of 30. After that, bone thinning and deterioration are a natural part of the aging process. 

Our bones act as a storehouse for calcium in the body.  If calcium is needed for certain functions in the body and there isn’t enough calcium in the diet, it gets leached from the bones, leaving them weak and porous. You need enough calcium when you are younger to build a good bone structure.  This stands you in good stead for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, most people do not get the recommended amount of calcium while they are growing up and later, to maintain their bones.

Junk food, especially soft drinks, are implicated when it comes to losing bone density.  These foods are very acidifying to the body.  Not only do they not give you the calcium the body requires, they actually contribute to the loss of bone density.  They leach calcium from the bones in an attempt to offset the acid environment that they create in the body.  This is especially important when a child is young and their bones are still growing.

Women are at a higher risk the moment our bodies stop producing estrogen.  This is generally when we enter the post-menopausal period.  With bone density decreasing year after year as we age, for women, there is a sharp increase of osteoporosis after menopause.

Bone density can decrease because of other factors too, not just aging or genetic reasons. People who do not exercise generally find their bone density decreasing, as do people who have poor nutritional intake. Certain conditions prevent the body from absorbing calcium properly and this too can be a cause for osteoporosis. Alcohol and cigarettes have also been found to contribute to bone loss and decreasing bone density.

As we age the cartilage which holds the bones together loses its water content.  With less and less cartilage to cushion the joints, the bones begin to rub together causing pain.  Cartilage is also destroyed by excess uric acid in the body.  Uric acid can deposit on the cartilage, wearing it down and creating even more pain and wear and tear on the bones.

But there is good news!!!

Our bone tissue is alive.  It is stimulated by weight bearing exercise.  This type of exercise, coupled with proper nutritional intake, causes our bones to become stronger and denser.  Weight bearing exercises are exercises that force the muscles to work against gravity or work against some resistance.  Our bones gain strength by having weight or resistance placed upon them.

Weight bearing exercises are the only type of exercise that stimulates the cells to grow new bone and prevent osteoporosis.  Weight bearing exercises not only prevent bone loss, but some studies suggest that it can also replace current bone loss.  Performing weight bearing and resistance exercises at least three times a week can help our bones stay alive and continue to support us as we age. 

Weight bearing exercises include:
Fast walking – adding ankle weights can provided added resistance
Jogging – although jogging on concrete is not recommended
Jumping and jumping jacks – a mini trampoline is excellent for this
Working with resistance bands
Weight lifting