Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which the bones become weaker, causing changes in posture and increasing susceptibility to fractures. Because of the physiological, nutritional, and hormonal differences between males and females, osteoporosis mainly affects women. Bone mass, the amount of mineral in the bone, generally reaches its peak when a woman is between the ages of 30 and 35. After that, it then begins to decline.
While certain minerals and vitamins are crucial for proper bone health, exercise is another vital factor. When bones get regular weight-bearing and resistance exercise, the body responds by depositing more minerals in the bones, especially the bones of the legs, hips and spine. Conversely, a lack of regular exercise accelerates the loss of bone mass.
Many researchers have attempted to pinpoint which types of exercises are most effective at improving bone mass density, however results have varied. The BEST (Bone-Estrogen Strength Training) Project at the University of Arizona identified six specific weight training exercises that yield the largest improvements. This project suggests squats, military press, lat pulldown, leg press, back extension and seated row, with 3 weight training sessions a week of 2 sets of each exercise, alternating between moderate (6-8 reps) and heavy (4-6 reps). In regards to weight-bearing exercises, the most improvements were seen in individuals who participated in regular walking, gymnastic training, stepping and jumping.
It is also important to keep in mind that other than improving bone mass, regular weight-bearing and resistance exercise will help improve balance, gait and a reduction of falls.