Osteoporosis is a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences. Osteoporosis, a condition where bones become brittle and porous, effects over 10 million Americans. Another 40 million have low bone mass density. It usually effects adults over the age of 50, women more than men. However, we reach our peak bone mass density in our 20’s. This means that in our 20’s, our bones will be as strong as they will ever be. We then try to maintain as much of the bone mass as possible with resistance exercise, proper nutrition, adequate protein levels, enough sleep, and stress reduction.
The role of the skeleton
It was long thought that bones primarily made up the skeleton, providing a lattice for muscles and protection for vital organs. However, we now know there is more to the story. Hormones made in bones actually communicate with the rest of the body and may possibly have roles in muscle health, metabolism, fertility, and even appetite. Osteocalcin, the most abundant protein in bone, is initially produced in bone and then enters the bloodstream with global effects on the body.
The importance of early exercise
Since we reach our peak bone mass density in our 20’s, it is of vital importance that weight bearing exercises are stressed to our young adults. Exercising hard in our late teens and in to our 20’s give us the best possible chance of preventing osteoporosis later in life. However, how many 20 year olds are thinking about osteoporosis when they are 60 + years old? Not my kids! Therefore, it is up to us: parents, teachers, educators, physical therapists, and others in the medical field to stress the importance of “Exercise for Life” beginning at a young age. Establishing exercise as a routine can be hard, but it must be done. Your 70 year old self will thank you.
To learn more about “successful aging” please check out Live Well 50.