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May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about this bone disease, which affects approximately 10 million Americans, according to the Office on Women's Health.
Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses, such as bending over or coughing, can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.
Osteoporosis is a major cause of disability in older women. The disease affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women, especially older women who are past menopause, are at highest risk.
If you have osteoporosis, you might think exercise will lead to fracture. However, using your muscles protects your bones. Certain types of exercise strengthen muscles and bones, while other types are designed to improve your balance — and that can help prevent falls.
Because of the varying degrees of osteoporosis and fracture risk, your health care provider might discourage you from performing certain exercises. The types of activities often recommended for people with osteoporosis include strength training, weight-bearing aerobic activities, flexibility exercises, and stability and balance exercises.
Learn more about staying active and exercising with osteoporosis.