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To the 43 million Americans who have low bone density, putting them at high risk of osteoporosis, Eagle River physical therapist Chris Wilson, has an important message: exercise is good medicine.

But not just any exercise – weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise.

“As people get older, bone density certainly becomes an issue for many people, which can lead to unexpected falls, broken bones and even the onset of osteoporosis,” said Wilson, owner of Ideal Motion Physical Therapy in Eagle River. “But studies have proven that doing regular, weight-bearing exercise like jogging, walking, aerobics, dancing and light resistance training can actually strengthen your bones. It’s a true ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.”

Osteoporosis is a disease, often associated with the elderly, that’s defined by the thinning and weakening of a person’s bone structure. The condition is suffered by 9 million people in the U.S – mostly women, but men as well – and, results in a higher risk of breaks and sometimes a vast reduction of one’s mobility, independence and quality of life.

In fact, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones each year, costing patients, families and the health care system $19 billion annually.

Though the numbers are staggering, Wilson says, people should feel empowered to take charge of their bone health as they age. Along with diet and regular check-ups, an exercise regimen that includes elements of strength and resistance training can help slow these effects of aging while allowing one to maintain a high quality of life through activity and independence.

“Whether walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, etc., we recommend 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity every day,” Wilson said, echoing the recommendations of the NOF. “It’s also necessary to set aside another two to three days of strength and resistance training each week, which can include free weights, weight machines, Pilates, yoga, and so on.”

Wilson adds that for the sake of both health and safety, a thorough strength, movement and balance assessment should precede any new exercise regimen, especially for older adults – assessments that physical therapists like those at Ideal Motion Physical Therapy are uniquely qualified to perform. The physical therapists at Ideal Motion Physical Therapy can provide clients with exercise programs based on personalized goals, health considerations and movement limitations.