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Exercising Healthy Limb May Fight Atrophy in Broken One

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

A small study looking at how exercising one limb affects the strength in the other produced a surprising result: The non-exercised limb preserved both strength and muscle volume when the other one was training. In the control group, where no exercises were done at all, study participants experienced the expected loss in both strength and muscle.

This type of “cross education” had been documented for over a century, but this was the first actual study where researchers used CT scans and other measurement tools to study and document the phenomenon, CNN Health said.

This is good news for anyone who might have a broken leg or arm, but even better news is that there are things you can do, now, to strengthen your bones enough to help prevent fractures from occurring. Osteoporosis is the term we use for the gradual loss of bone mass that happens as you age. The good news is that weight-bearing exercises can help prevent porous and fragile bones.

If you don’t have access to weight machines, a great exercise for building strength and bone density in your hips is the walking lunge, which you can find on YouTube, if you’re interested in learning this easy exercise.

Balance-building exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are also recommended, as good balance is essential to help prevent a fall. If you’re able, hopping and weight training definitely can help, but so can dancing, high-impact aerobics, jumping rope and playing tennis. Even hiking and climbing stairs can build bone strength and muscles.

I can’t end this without commenting on oral bisphosphonate, which are common drugs often prescribed by doctors to help preserve bone density and strength. The thing is, osteoporosis drugs such as Actonel, Boniva and Fosamax are associated with a twofold increased risk of esophageal cancer. Research also shows that, over time, these kinds of drugs will actually worsen your condition, because all you're doing is fooling your body into producing denser but weaker bone — and that is not what you’re aiming for.

The bottom line is your lifestyle largely determines your osteoporosis risk. While diet certainly plays an important role, weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis.