Osteoporosis And You



For Information on strength training videos that help prevent osteoporosis, click here.

What is Osteoporosis? Often called the "silent disease," osteoporosis is approaching epidemic proportions. Ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and an estimated 34 million (80% of them women) have low bone density, which is a strong risk factor for the disease. Osteoporosis drains bones of mineral content, making them weaker and more prone to fractures, especially of the spine, wrist, and hip. The disease is most common in post menopausal women, and the symptoms of osteoporosis are not usually apparent until the disease has progressed.  Men, as well as women from all races, can develop osteoporosis.

The good news is exercise can play an important role in preventing and treating osteoporosis. And the sooner you start the better. In fact, many health and fitness experts are educating their clients in hopes of getting their clients' children moving. And new research shows that resistance or strength training exercise such as Body Sculpting™ may provide a better stimulus to bone-building cells than traditional cardiovascular exercise.

What causes Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is caused by a loss of bone tissue. In post menopausal women, the dramatic decrease in estrogen levels is responsible for the bone's inability to absorb calcium and rebuild tissue as fast as it is deteriorated. There are several factors that may increase a person's chance of developing osteoporosis. If you have any of the following risk factors, or if you show signs such as stooped posture, fractures, or stress fractures, you should contact your physician to get a bone mineral density test.

Family history of osteoporosis

Decrease of estrogen production caused by menopause

Hysterectomy without ongoing estrogen replacement

Lack of regular exercise

Smoking and second-hand smoke

Calcium deficiency

Excess alcohol consumption

Taking corticosteroid medications or regular use of steroids

Cushing's syndrome (which is abnormally high levels of natural steroids in the body)

How do your bones work?

Bones receive a continuous supply of calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals through the blood. Bones store minerals and nutrients and support the body and give it form. Your bones are continuously undergoing bone remodeling by use of Osteoclasts and Osteoblasts. The Osteoclasts break down old bone tissue and the Osteoblasts replace the old bone tissue with new bone tissue. The more minerals absorbed into the porous tissue, the denser and stronger the bone will become. As people age, more bone is broken down than is being replaced, resulting in weak and brittle bones. This bone loss can also occur if there are not sufficient minerals in the bloodstream to be utilized by the bone, or if there is a lack of vitamin D, which aids the body in calcium absorption.

What happens when your bone density decreases?

Because it has no early symptoms, many people are unaware of the fact that they have osteoporosis or osteopenia until a break or fracture in the bone occurs. In many cases, the amount of force that caused the bone to break would not normally have caused a fracture. Crumbling of the bones in the spine may also occur over time, causing chronic back pain. Common fracture sites for people with osteoporosis include the wrist, the top of the thigh bone and hips, and the bones or vertebrae in the spinal column. Fractures usually appear in these areas because they are comprised of the most porous and metabolically active bone tissue in the body, known as trabecular bone. Loss in bone density, or weak and brittle bones, may lead to fractures or tiny cracks called stress fractures which can cause severe pain, loss of independence in performing activities of daily living, and even death due to complications.

Don't become a statistic!

10 Million Americans have Osteoporosis.

34 Million Americans have low bone density, which is a strong risk factor for the disease.

Loss in bone density can start to occur as early as adolescence.

80% of those at risk are women.

50% of women over 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime.

Nearly 25% of hip fracture patients (50 and older) die within a year following their injury.

How can I help to prevent Osteoporosis? 

There are several steps a person can take to help prevent osteoporosis. Diet and exercise are of course, the two most important factors. Experts believe that if you maintain a healthy diet with the proper intake of supplements, and participate in an exercise program that includes strength and resistance training using weights, you may actually reverse the bone mass loss that has occurred to your body.


Making sure the body is getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals, is very important. Good food sources of calcium include dairy products, broccoli, mustard greens, kale, oranges, grapefruit, figs, corn tortillas, corn bread and biscuits, fish with bones, dried beans, and fortified food products. Vitamin D can be found in liver, cod liver oil, egg yolks, fortified milk, and cereals. Vitamin D is also produced in the body after exposure to sunlight. Care should be taken when exposing the skin to sun as it can result in burns, and possibly, skin cancer. 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight is adequate. Other nutrients involved in bone health are phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, sodium, magnesium, boron, fluoride, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and protein. Adequate amounts of these nutrients can usually be found in a normal diet, but supplements can also be taken. Supplements are a convenient way to regulate the intake of vitamins and minerals. There are many dietary supplements available on the market that may be helpful and convenient in supplementing a deficient diet. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1500 milligrams per day for women not taking estrogen, and 800 milligrams per day for women on estrogen. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) Value for Vitamin D is 400 IU (International Units). A multi-vitamin supplement with 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs), is more than enough to meet a healthy body's needs. Excessive or low intake of these nutrients can actually impair bone health. Whether on a plate or in a pill, no matter how you choose to consume them, these vitamins and minerals have been found to be less effective if not taken in conjunction with a regular exercise and fitness program.


Exercise plays an important role in the body's ability to utilize vitamins and minerals to their fullest potential. Exercise increases blood flow to the bones, bringing in vital bone-building nutrients. The physical activity of exercise stimulates the bone tissue that in turn sparks the growth of new bone. When exercise places physical stress on the body, the bones and muscles respond by becoming bigger and stronger. If not used, your bones and muscles weaken and literally shrink. People who are overweight actually have denser bones because of the increased amount of body weight their skeleton has to support. This is probably the only advantage to being overweight.  However, and eventually, the decrease in hormone and vitamin and mineral levels will cause the bone to breakdown faster than it can rebuild itself and osteoporosis will occur. It is important to note that low-impact exercises such as walking, biking, or swimming do not create enough stress to increase bone mass. This type of stress can only occur through resistance training which primarily consists of exercising with resistance machines or doing weight training with free weights. Keep in mind that resistance training is not 20 minutes of toning in an aerobics class. A regimen of eight to 10 weight bearing and resistance exercises with 8-12 repetitions per set is recommended to help to increase bone density. It is important to perform the exercises using perfect form and with sufficient enough weight, as well as completing the adequate number of sets and repetitions of different exercises for each muscle group.

You can learn how to do these vital strength training exercises at home, too.  We offer several different levels for seniors, teens, and everyone in between.  Visit our VIDEO page at http://www.flexcity.com/store/storeitems_v.asp.  If you have never lifted weights before, try The International Weightlifting Association's® Guide to Proper Weightlifting Techniques.  From there, we recommend Weights® beginner tape, a great one-hour exercise video that incorporates all the primary strength training exercises.  Once you have mastered the movements, challenge yourself even further with Weights® II (intermediate), and Weights® III (super advanced).  If you are a senior, we suggest Geri-Fit®, the First Workout with Weights for Older Adults. 

How can Body Sculpting™ help prevent Osteoporosis?

Body Sculpting™ is a twice-a-week, 60-minute, strength training exercise program that uses a set of 3 to 5-pound, hand-held weights. The strength training exercises that are performed use muscles throughout the entire body to increase strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Exercises like the Overhead Press, Dumbbell Row, Lunges, and Squats are the fundamental building blocks of the Body Sculpting™ program. These exercises have been medically reviewed and approved by physicians and medical experts and are a key element in increasing bone density. Instructors of the Body Sculpting™ courses are certified through the IWA (International Weightlifting Association®) to ensure that proper lifting techniques are taught to, and followed by, all clients. This is essential since injury could result if too heavy of a weight is used or if a lift is not executed properly. 

In addition to increasing bone density, Body Sculpting™ has many other benefits. Increased strength, elevated moods and energy levels, weight loss, and firming and toning of the body, are just some of the results our clients have reported.

Strength training should be done a minimum of twice a week, performing 8-10 exercises per body part with 10-15 repetitions per set. Upper body strength training will improve bone density in the wrists, and lower body exercises, such as Squats and Lunges, will help load the femur bones in the legs. And when supplementing your Body Sculpting™ workouts with cardiovascular exercise such as walking, perform it on a hard surface to maximize ground-reaction forces.

Bone development and exercises through the ages...

Youth through age 30: Bone is built during this period, with peak bone mass achieved between ages 20 and 30. Children and adolescents should get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity nearly every day of the week. Increased activity in sports that involve jumping and running, such as basketball, volleyball, and soccer, may benefit bones. A strength training and resistance program such as Teen-Fit® is also a great way to introduce teens and pre-teens to proper exercise techniques and instill a healthy lifestyle that they are likely to maintain throughout their lifetime. For young adults and thirty somethings, the twice a week Body Sculpting™ course is a perfect way to fit resistance and strength training exercises into a busy schedule.

30's and 40's: Bone loss may begin to occur in some parts of the skeleton at a rate of up to one percent per year. To help maintain bone, do at least 30 minutes of weight bearing exercise three to five days a week and about 30 minutes of resistance exercise two to three days a week. Classes such as Body Sculpting™ and Back-Fit® with Pilates are beneficial.

45 to 55 and Menopause: Bone loss is most rapid at this time, with women losing up to 20 percent of their bone mass. It is most beneficial to continue with weight-bearing and resistance exercises during these years. Exercise classes such as Body Sculpting™ and Back-Fit® with Pilates may prove to be beneficial.

65 and over: Men and women tend to lose bone mass at a similar rate during this period. A gradual exercise program can help lead into a regular fitness plan that can be beneficial in maintaining bone density. Programs such as Geri-Fit® are specifically designed for this purpose.

At any age, long term commitment to regular exercise is important. Once a person stops exercising, the benefits of increased density to the bone are quickly lost. According to recent studies, not only can you help to prevent osteoporosis with strength and resistance training, but you can actually rebuild lost bone mass and reverse the effects of the disease.

Want more?

If you want to learn more about Osteoporosis and how you can combat the disease through strength training, BODY SCULPTING BY EXTERIOR DESIGNS, INC.® offers a wide variety of strength training exercise classes throughout Ohio. Call 440-729-3463 to obtain a FREE schedule of classes offered near you, or visit our website at http://www.flexcity.com/

If you prefer to work out at home using a video, we have several different videos to choose from.  Visit our VIDEO page at http://www.flexcity.com/store/storeitems_v.asp

You can also check out these other organizations' websites for additional information on Osteoporosis.

Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education (FORE), http://www.fore.org/

International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), http://www.icaa.cc/

International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), http://www.osteofound.org/

National Institute of Health (NIH), Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center,  http://www.osteo.org/

National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), http://www.nof.org/

Educate your body and mind, because the more you know, the healthier you will be!

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