Want to Prevent Osteoporosis? Start Early

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What is the best way to prevent osteoporosis in older women? It appears that it may very well depend on what the woman did as a teenager.

In the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online December 22, 2008, the Japanese investigators drew the conclusion that doing weight-bearing exercise as a teenager may be the best way to maintain bone strength in old age.

The study looked at the teenage exercise habits of 46 postmenopausal women, now aged 52 or older. They found that the women who had participated in low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, such as swimming, as teenagers had significantly greater bone mineral content in both their spine and their thigh bone. The study also looked at women had either played more high-impact sports in their youth (ie running or jumping, such as volleyball or tennis) or no sports at all. None of the women in the study were currently taking part in any weight-bearing exercise programs.

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The women in the weight-bearing groups also had larger outer femoral bone area. This improved bone density helps protect them more from fractures.

The Suzuka University of Medical Science authors suggest their exercising in their youth helped them more than 40 years later.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has more about preventing osteoporosis.

SOURCE: British Journal of Sports Medicine, news release, Dec. 22, 2008

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