Working out regularly does not just feel great – it really contributes to your short term and long term health. I found this information from about.com insightful and believe you will too.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that affects men and women, especially women beyond menopause because estrogen helps to protect bone. In osteoporosis, the bones become brittle and weak and have a greater risk of fracture. The word osteoporosis means “porous bones,” where porous essentially means “full of holes” — and that accurately describes the condition of osteoporotic bones.

Prevention

Exercise of the right type, called “weight-bearing” or “load-bearing” exercise, helps keep bones strong by causing the muscles and tendons to pull on the bones, which in turn stimulates bone cells to produce more bone. The load on the bones can be created by your own bodyweight, as in running or jogging, or by external weights like dumbbells or gym machines in a weight training program.

In fact, studies suggest that the best exercise may not only be weight-bearing but also “high-impact” exercise. This means imparting a jolt to muscle and bone such as you would when placing a foot forcefully on the ground while running, or lifting or pushing a weight suddenly. Naturally, you have to ensure you do such exercise safely.

One measure of the health of bones is “bone mineral density” or BMD for short. A bone scan to assess BMD is a relatively simple procedure that is offered by medical practitioners.

Exercise Prevents Falls and Fractures Too

Although strong bones may help you prevent fractures if you fall, the best way to protect from fall fractures is not to fall in the first place! Balance and strength are the keys to fall protection. Appropriate exercise as we age – such as weight training – not only helps keep bones healthy, it protects against falls and fractures as well improving balance and strength.

Best Types of Exercise

All exercise benefits your general fitness. Weight-bearing exercise is best for strengthening bones. Here are some examples:

  • Running and jogging
  • Gymnastics
  • Aerobics class — step, dance and pump aerobics
  • Weight lifting — dumbbells, barbells, machines, body weight exercises
  • Team sports involving running and throwing — basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball
  • Individual sports involving running — racket sports
  • Walking (but less effective than running or jogging)

So, dare to be fit – now – and build better body mechanics for your long term health!