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Strong Women, Strong Bones
by Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D. with Sarah Wernick, Ph.D.
2001

Osteoporosis is a frightening disease. Osteoporosis-caused fractures often signify the end of living independently. Complications from hip fractures kill more women every year than breast cancer. And women aren't the only ones who need to be concerned. One in five men will have an osteoporotic fracture sometime during their lives - a higher figure than those who will develop prostate cancer. The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable, and it is treatable for those who already have it. Strong Women, Strong Bones strips the mysteries and myths away from osteporosis and shows you how to deal with it, whether you're at risk, or already suffering from it.

If you are familiar with any of Miriam Nelson's other books (Strong Women Stay Young, Strong Women Stay Slim, and Strong Women Eat Well, to name a few), you already know that she backs up her fitness programs with careful research and conservative, proven wisdom. This is especially important when it comes to a disease as potentially crippling as osteoporosis. But of course, this book is about more than facts and figures - it's about solutions. And preventing or treating osteoporosis involves more than just taking calcium and walking three times a week. Nelson discusses the role that vitamin D plays in bone health and emphasizes the importance of strength training (muscle pulling on bone will create more bone density). She also points out that it is possible for most young women to get enough calcium in their diet - even if they hate milk, are lactose intolerant or vegan. For women who are approaching menopause - a time of life in which bone loss increases at an alarming rate - Nelson also discusses the pros and cons (mostly pros) of hormone replacement therapy, and looks at the various types of drugs that are used specifically to fight osteoporosis.

Strong Women, Strong Bones gives you a whole exercise program geared to fight osteoporosis, but Nelson points out that you can mix and match these exercises with those found in her other books, too. Most of the exercises are safe for any level and age, except for the vertical jumps, which are meant for women under 50 who do not suffer from either osteoporosis or osteopenia (high impact exercise is a great bone-builder). She doesn't offer a diet plan, but she has a long list of calcium rich foods to add to your diet. When it comes to drugs, she gives you a lot of information to discuss with your own doctor (but keep in mind that there may be more drugs approved and more information since the book was published). You will also find a chapter geared specifically towards men, although most of the recommendations in the book will apply equally to them.

Everyone should be concerned about osteoporosis. It doesn't just strike older women - it can strike athletes, people with a history of eating disorders and those who have had to take certain drugs, such as steroids, over a long period of time. But Strong Women, Strong Bones points out that if you take the proper measures, you don't have to live a crippled and infirm old age. This book should be required reading for all.

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