Type I osteoporosis can be significantly influenced by several preventive measures. Most of these measures are in the hands of the individual and should be started as early in life as possible.
An individual’s peak bone mass is typically achieved by the age of 30. The amount of bone that is obtained at one’s peak, and how much is retained thereafter, is influenced by several factors, including:
It is important for individuals to know their genetic predisposition to osteoporosis. Genetics plays an important role—it is estimated that about 75% of an individual’s peak bone mass is influenced by genetics. There are genes that code for Vitamin D receptors and for estrogen receptors that both significantly affect peak bone mass. If one is genetically predisposed to osteoporosis, then exercise, diet and regular bone mass testing are even more important.
Weight-bearing exercise (which refers to activity that one performs while on their feet that works the bones and muscles against gravity) and muscle contraction combined have been shown to effectively increase bone density in the spine. It is recommended that an individual perform 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times weekly to increase bone mass.
In a study, jogging, walking, or stair climbing at 70-90% of maximum effort three times per week, along with 1,500 mg of calcium per day, increased bone density of the lumbar (lower) spine by 5% over 9 months. Exercises in a pool have not been shown to increase bone density.
A note of caution: for people with osteoporosis or low bone mass, care must be taken when exercising especially with regard to posture and body mechanics. Activities that require twisting of the spine or bending forward from the waist (such as conventional sit-ups or toe touches) may be dangerous. Individuals already diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis should discuss their exercise program with their physician to avoid fractures.