As the baby boomers continue to age we will see an increase in many age-related conditions, including osteoporosis, a condition characterized by the loss of the normal density of bone, resulting in fragile bones that are easily fractured. While women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, some men also suffer from osteoporosis. According to the National Institutes for Health, 8 million women and 2 million men suffer from osteoporosis each year.

Bone density is greatly influenced by genetic factors, which in turn are sometimes modified by environmental factors and medications. Post menopausal women have an increased risk because women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density in the five to seven years following menopause.

Small-framed people, smokers and those who use alcohol to excess have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than the general population. Although there are some factors, such as heredity, that we cannot control, there are other osteoporosis risk factors that we can influence. Getting enough calcium can greatly reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis. Calcium is a mineral that is essential for healthy bones and for several important functions in the human body. It can be obtained through the diet (such as through dairy products) or through supplementation.

Most people do not get enough calcium. In fact, recent research conducted by the National Institute on Aging revealed that only 21 percent of us are getting the recommended amount of calcium. Because there are no obvious symptoms of calcium deficiency most people don’t know they have a problem until osteoporosis is discovered, either through bone scans (or other similar tests) or though a broken bone.

In recent years calcium supplements have become increasingly popular as a way to mitigate the risks of developing osteoporosis. Calcium supplements are safe and generally well tolerated.

Many medical professionals recommend weight-bearing exercises in addition to calcium supplements. Weight-bearing aerobic activities involve doing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical training machines, stair climbing and gardening. These types of exercises work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss and keep your bones strong.

If you already have osteoporosis you can help maintain your existing bone density through exercise. Take calcium supplements and make exercise a priority so you can enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle for many years to come. You have waited your whole life to enjoy your golden years, so do everything you can to keep them golden.

Author's Bio: 

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