Older women should exercise regularly, with mild resistance training, to maintain muscle strength, a doctor in Kaohsiung said.
Women’s bones begin to rapidly weaken following menopause, and one in three older women experience a bone fracture, Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung Hospital physician Chen Chung-huan (陳崇桓) said.
Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics show that nearly 40 percent of women over the age of 60 do not exercise regularly, and many say that exercise is futile, as there is no cure for osteoporosis, he said.
However, exercise can be helpful for bone growth in older women, he added.
A person’s bone quality peaks during their 20s, and gradually weakens from age 30, he said.
During advanced age, if bone erosion becomes too severe, osteoporosis will occur, which is when bone density lessens and the bones become weak and brittle, he said.
Estrogen inhibits damage to bone cells, but as estrogen levels in women fall following menopause, bone erosion hastens, National Cheng Kung University Hospital physician Wu Chih-hsing (吳至行) said.
Although some people with osteoporosis become noticeably shorter or develop a hunched back, most people show no obvious symptoms, Chen said.
Often people are unaware of the condition until they break a bone in a fall or while carrying something heavy, he added.
As all older people experience bone erosion, it is important for them to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise, he said, adding that bone erosion is reduced through resistance exercises.
People who can handle jump rope exercises should do so, he said.
Alternatively, fast walking is a safe and effective exercise, he added.
People over 60 should consider being checked for osteoporosis, Wu said.
Calcium supplements are also a good way to slow bone erosion, even though they are ineffective in increasing or maintaining bone density, he said.
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