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Fragile bones? Coping with osteoporosis

Fragile Bones?

Nancy Reardon Stewart

Provided by HealthMonitor

If you have osteoporosis, the fear of breaking a bone can make you want to don a shield of armor'especially if you've already suffered a fracture. Everyday activities may seem risky: What if I fall washing the kitchen floor? What if I get pushed at the mall? But "exercise is the No. 1 injury-prevention tool available," says Harold Rosen, MD, director of the Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Center at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Being active helps build muscle, which protects your skeleton and improves stability. If you've had a fracture, aim for low-impact aerobic activity and weight training three times a week. As these stories show, it can pay off.
'I've learned to do things differently'
Jean H., 73, of Minneapolis fractured her sacrum (a large bone at the base of the spine) and her femur during everyday activities'lifting a watering can and getting out of her car. But that hasn't stopped her from living her life. "I've learned to do things differently," she says. A physical therapist taught her how to safely lift dishes in and out of the oven (she bends at the knees to avoid straining her back) and how to get in and out of her car.
Some tasks are too painful for Jean'such as changing the sheets on her bed and washing the kitchen floor'so she hired a cleaning service. And she's found comfort in talking to other women with osteoporosis at the gym, where she swims in a heated pool twice a week. "I go to the pool to exercise, but half my therapy is emotional support," says Jean. "The women there have taught me to stay positive'to look for what you can do, not what you can't.'
'I won't
live in fear'
When 58-year-old Tricia Goonan of Reisterstown, MD, learned she had osteoporosis 10 years ago, she swore she'd continue to stay active. "I love to swim, dance and walk," she says. "I also do weight-bearing exercises and work out on the elliptical trainer at the gym."
She never considered scaling back until recently, when she went roller-skating with her 4-year-old granddaughter. The little girl slipped, taking Tricia down with her. Tricia fractured her wrist and broke her tailbone. The doctor at the urgent care center where Tricia was treated told her to avoid any activities that put her at risk for a hard fall. Experts agree but recommend that if you do fall off the horse, as the saying goes, it's important to get back on again'even if it's by doing a more gentle activity.
'You can't live in fear," says Tricia, who has hung up her skates, but won't back down from her weekly gym visits and everyday activities. Once healed, she plans to hit the gym and the walking trails again.
Anxiety Knee Pain Pain Osteoporosis Exercise More

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