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This week on MedMinute: Start Early To Prevent Osteoporosis

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, a good time to learn how Americans – especially women – can reduce their risk for developing this serious health condition. One key is to start exercising at a young age.

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Grandmothers aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about osteoporosis. Girls as young as pre-teens are at an age when they can reduce future bone loss through regular, moderate exercise. This window of opportunity to “load our skeleton,” or increase bone mass, is brief – starting right around puberty and continuing through it, according to Dr. Kenneth Lyles, professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at Duke University Medical Center.

“It is possible – and there’s plenty of clear data – that weight-bearing exercise for girls as they just start going into puberty is a very useful way to help them achieve their full skeletal potential.”

Advertising that shows pre-teens exercising or drinking a glass of milk can help make this age group aware of healthy habits that can reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis when they grow older.

“I think habits should be lifelong. Trying to get someone to do it who’s never done it before is a real problem. I think people should be encouraged to be physically active almost from the time they can walk. And I think it needs to be set by families.”