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Exercise is More Important Than Calcium Supplements for Bones

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A study making recent news concluded that taking calcium supplements does not do much to reduce bone fractures in childhood or later life. The study did not cover all reasons, but it does not stand alone. Studies over many years show that bone density depends on more than eating calcium. Calcium loss occurs through smoking, drinking too much alcohol and soda, lack of exercise, and eating animal protein. A young person can thin their bones through bad habits to the equivalent of an elderly person.

Bone density when you are older depends on what you are doing now. Sedentary lifestyle is a major risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Exercise thickens bones from the muscles pulling on them. Without exercise, you can lose bone density no matter how much calcium you eat. Without exercise, you "pee" the calcium you eat back out. You need to give calcium a reason to stick on your bones.

Even if you are a young man you need to build bone now. Osteoporotic hip and spine fractures are a major cause of illness and death for both women and men. One in eight men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture, greater than his risk of prostate cancer. The death rate in the year following a hip fracture is nearly twice as high for men as for women.

Research in elder populations shows ability to increase bone density with exercise. Weightlifting is often mentioned as needed. People think they need to go to a gym or buy hand weights for home use. Weightlifting includes lifting groceries, children, and packages around the house. Weight-resisting activity includes moving, pulling, and lifting your own body weight. You can load your upper leg at the hip, a major site of osteoporosis, by bending right using your legs for all the many times you need to bend every day. Go to Disc Pain - Not a Mystery, Easy to Fix for tips. Future posts will show more bone building exercise from daily activities.

Several vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables help bone density. Calcium also needs vitamin D to work. Sunlight is an often forgotten source. Sunlight is necessary for your immune system, bones, mood, and overall health. There are some who say there is no safe sun exposure. Balance your time of exposure to reduce risk of cataracts and skin cancer. Get out of your chair and get outside in the sunshine for exercise every day.

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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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