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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Fracture Prevention: 6 Tips to Fight Fractures, Slips, and Falls

Learn how just a little effort and forethought today can help you prevent fractures tomorrow.

Fracture Prevention Tip: Exercise to Improve Balance and Strength continued...

Although the argument makes intuitive sense, it's actually backward. The fact is that exercisingreduces your risk of falls.

"Keeping physically active helps your reflexes stay sharp and your muscles stay strong," says Shreyasee Amin, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "That can help with coordination and lower your risk of falling." If you're fit, your balance is better, and that makes you much less likely to take a fall than someone who has become bedridden and infirm.

Aside from improving your balance and strength, exercise also has a direct impact on the strength of your bones. Bone is a living tissue. Like muscle, it weakens if you don't exercise it. By staying fit, you can make your bones stronger and less likely to break during a fall. Experts generally recommend a combination of weight-bearing exercise (like walking), resistance exercise (like lifting weights), and flexibility and balance exercises (like yoga or tai chi).

However, a note of caution: always talk to your doctor before starting up an exercise routine. High impact exercise, like jogging or tennis, may not be safe for some people with osteoporosis, since the physical pounding could cause a fracture. Even some seemingly benign exercises, like crunches, can be risky for people with weak vertebrae, Amin tells WebMD.

Fracture Prevention Tip: Tread Carefully

If you have osteoporosis, you need to consider more than fashion when choosing your shoes. Wearing the wrong sort of footwear can really increase your risk of a fall.

But happily, you don't have to be stuck with "sensible shoes" either. Just look for low-heeled shoes that offer good support and have rubber soles rather than leather ones. While sneakers are fine, avoid ones with deep treads that can trip you up.

Also, it's time to start wearing shoes inside the house too: walking around in socks and slippers can increase your risk of slipping.

When you're walking outside, play it safe. Walk on the grass when it's been raining or snowing, since you're more likely to slip on concrete. Always put down salt or kitty litter on icy patches around your home.

If you have difficulty walking due to a medical condition such as arthritis or another problem, make sure to use the assistive device recommended by your doctor or physical therapist such as a cane or walker.

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